ALTON, Virginia — American Brett Smrz further solidified his position as an up-and-coming racing talent over the weekend (April 25-26), scoring his inaugural win in the BF Goodrich/Skip Barber National Series presented by Mazda at Virginia International Raceway, in only his third career series start. Smrz followed the initial triumph with another strong run in race two of the doubleheader, challenging for the win the entire race, before crossing the stripe in fourth.
Nearly a month after making his Skip Barber National debut in the season-opening doubleheader at the historic Sebring International Raceway in Florida, Smrz returned to the cockpit at VIR confident that he could build on his opening two results and potentially challenge for the win. This belief was quickly justified during the Thursday promoter’s test day, as the left leg amputee, the result of a freak trampoline accident, led the way in one of the three sessions and was second in another.
Smrz continued to show that he was ready to battle for top honors when the official action commenced one day later, as he was P1 in the lone practice session. Having worked with fellow former karting stand-out Connor De Phillippi in the sessions leading up to qualifying, the duo planned to do the same in the timed session later in the day, which would set the grid for Saturday’s Round Three race. While the pairing did work together in the session, traffic proved an issue, resulting in Smrz qualifying sixth, further back than desired.
When the talented teenager returned to the cockpit of his Wagner Racing Products/In Touch Physical Therapy-backed car one day, he enjoyed a solid launch at the green, retaining his top-10 starting position. Waiting for the right opportunity to advance up the charts, Smrz quickly worked his way into second place on lap three when the chance arrived. Smrz was aware that the win would likely come down to the final lap so he held station inside the top-three lap after lap. Smrz was the race leader when the final tour of the 3.27-mile road course commenced, but he soon relinquished the position prior to the vital back straightaway. Running P2, Smrz utilized the draft down the straight to full advantage, retaking the top-spot entering the final corners of the race. Holding off a spirited last chance challenge from his competition as they raced to the line, Smrz captured his first Skip Barber National win by a mere 0.067 seconds.
With a Skip Barber National win now on his racing resume, Smrz was more than ready for race two of the doubleheader on Sunday afternoon. As in the opening round, the Idaho native was forced to work his way forward from a starting place outside of the top-five after the red flew in qualifying for a heavy crash negating Smrz’s best lap. Smrz, however, quickly showed that he could move up through the field, charging up to third place prior to the yellow flags halting the racing action.
Despite initially believing that he might have a car problem while behind the safety car, Smrz enjoyed a clean get away when the race resumed, remaining part of the top-three. With all the front-runners taking turns leading the way, it was Smrz who was out-front when the final lap commenced. Unfortunately, this proved not to be the ideal position, as upon reaching the long back straight the chasing three cars used the draft to pass for position. Battling all the way to the checkered flag, Smrz crossed the stripe in fourth place.
“Overall, I think the weekend went great,” commented Smrz. “I came into this event with a positive mindset after Sebring's struggles and for the second straight weekend, I learned alot. For me, this is all about experience. With my consistency this weekend, I am currently in third place in the point standings, so I’m very pleased. I am lreally ooking forward to the next race at Thunderbolt Raceway in New Jersey."
Smrz will switch racing seats this coming weekend (May 2-3), as the young pilot takes part in the season-opening event of the Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup at Road Atlanta as part of the Mitty Challenge. His BF Goodrich/Skip Barber National Series Presented Mazda campaign resumes on June 13-14, with Rounds Five and Six at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
Additional information on Brett Smrz can be obtained via his website at www.brettsmrz.com. For direct contact, please contact Smrz at firstname.lastname@example.org