Illiana: Casey Smith race notes

AUSTIN, TX (September 24, 2003) -- While it wasn't exactly where he left off, Texas teen Casey Smith made a successful return to the ASA Racing Series on Saturday night at Illiana Motor Speedway in the CITGO / MDA 250. He finished 12th after ...

AUSTIN, TX (September 24, 2003) -- While it wasn't exactly where he left off, Texas teen Casey Smith made a successful return to the ASA Racing Series on Saturday night at Illiana Motor Speedway in the CITGO / MDA 250. He finished 12th after running much of the race in the top-10.

"It wasn't as good as we would have liked of course, but being that we were out of the ASA car for several months, I don't think we could have asked for a much better return," said Smith, who said his car was good enough to finish in the top-six or seven. "We got hung up racing Rich Bickle for almost 50 laps and that really slowed our progress to the front. It was a lot of fun, but we were following the 11-car (Toby Porter) up front and he got away from us because we just couldn't get by Bickle on the outside."

Smith qualified his Hamke Race Cars & Parts #08 in the 16th spot but fell back early after getting stuck behind rookie driver Jeff Harrison, who was extremely slow at the start. Smith fell all the way back to 26th spot, but worked the outside groove and quickly found his way back into the top-15 and eventually into the top-10. The team had planned to stop twice in the pits, but wound up stopping three times, which pushed them back at the finish.

"We had hoped to make it a two-stop race with everyone else stopping three times. Unfortunately, we had to stop three times and everyone else stopped twice. That pushed us a little farther back than where we should have been. We had to work through more traffic and just ran out of laps to get into the top-10.

"Being our first race back, we struggled with the car being really tight all weekend long. We changed just about everything except for the driver before the race. Despite our problems, I think it was a pretty successful return.

"These ASA cars are just so much different than anything else you race out there. You have to do so much bizarre stuff to them to get them to work. And with the help of our crew chief Robert Hamke, we've been trying some new stuff on them."

It was Smith's fourth top-12 finish in five races in 2003, which included a career-best third-place run at Lanier National Speedway earlier this year. The only race the team failed to finish in the top-12 was when an axle broke early at Toledo Speedway while running in sixth spot.

Smith will run one more race in 2003 in hopes he can compete for Rookie of the Year honors in 2004. He will enter the ASA season finale at the Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville on October 18. The team plans to test at the track in the coming weeks.

www.caseysmith.com

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