Lanier: Casey Smith race report

Smith nearly wins before scoring ASA career-best, third-place finish. Teenager has fastest car on the track late in the event. CONCORD, NC (April 29, 2003) -- For a brief moment of time in the cockpit of his car at Lanier National Speedway, ...

Smith nearly wins before scoring ASA career-best, third-place finish.
Teenager has fastest car on the track late in the event.

CONCORD, NC (April 29, 2003) -- For a brief moment of time in the cockpit of his car at Lanier National Speedway, 18-year-old Casey Smith had visions of himself celebrating in Victory Lane after winning his first American Speed Association race. That dream nearly came true in the Georgia 250.

Smith was clearly the fastest driver on the track Saturday night while racing with veteran drivers such as former ASA champions Kevin Cywinski and Gary St. Amant. St. Amant proved no trouble, but Cywinski was a different story.

Smith worked over the veteran Cywinski for several laps and finally jumped to his inside with just 45 laps to go. Slight contact between the two sent Cywinski up the track and Smith into the lead. But before Smith could get back to the line to lead his first competitive lap in ASA competition, Cywinski bumped the rear of Smith's car and that sent his number-08 sliding up out of the groove and nearly into the outside wall. Smith miraculously regained control of his car and his composure in the cockpit and drove off to a third-place finish. That competitive outing marked his first career ASA podium and his best finish in the series.

"It is awesome; something I couldn't even imagine," said Smith of his effort. "After the year we had last year, I didn't know if we would ever see the podium. I knew we had the potential, but I questioned whether or not we had the luck to go along with it. We missed Lakeland (FL, the season-opener), yet that was like a momentum builder for this team. Everyone put their heads together and we now have this thing on the right page. I knew we were going to get up there; it was just a matter of time.

"In practice, I thought we were in for a long day. We were at the back of the (time) sheets and we kept adjusting the car and making it worse. So we went back to what we came with and it was perfect for the race. We qualified ninth and when the race started, the car was just on a rail. I let (Mike) Garvey by and figured out there was an outside line and that really took me up to the front.

"I think we could have won it if Cywinski wouldn't have tried to wreck me down there in turn four. Cywinski was on the outside in turn two and I just barely rubbed him. He got loose and went up the track and we were side by side. Then down in turn four, he just came back up and nailed me. I thought for sure I was going to get into the wall but luckily saved it."

"I really have to thank my crew chief Robert Hamke and the entire team. They all did an awesome job all day long. Robert really had something for this track. It was great because I really like these tight little tracks that you can really pass on. This is fun racing here.

"We have all kinds of momentum now, which is what we needed. You would be amazed how important momentum is in racing. We showed that from our last three runs. We are getting so much more used to these cars since they are so different than anything we have ever run."

From here on out, Smith can only improve two more spots before reaching the pinnacle of his career, an ASA victory. He has some time off now to finish up the high school year before the series moves to Toledo Speedway on May 18th. The Sunday afternoon event is scheduled to run at 3 pm and will be seen live on SPEED Channel.

Casey and the team continue to climb through the ASA points standings (currently 16th), but they are still in desperate need of some sponsorship assistance. For inquiries, call 512-282-6845. You can also obtain more information about Casey on the internet by going to caseysmith.com

-51ss-

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