AUSTIN, Texas -- Casey Smith may not always seem like a rookie due to his maturity behind the wheel, but when the 19-year-old hits Lake Erie Speedway (PA) on Friday, May 29th, he will be as green as a rookie can be. The race will be the first of three-straight tracks on the 2004 ASA schedule that Casey has never seen before. However, the stops at Lake Erie, Mansfield Motorsports Park (OH) and Berlin Raceway (MI) don't have the 19-year-old worried one bit. Why? His answer is right out of a scene from the early ‘90s racing movie, Days of Thunder.
“I've seen all three of those tracks on TV, SPEED Channel, their coverage is very good; you can learn a lot from it,” said Smith with a smile. “Since we've only run a partial schedule the last couple of years, we haven't been to those tracks, but I’m really not worried. I have a lot of confidence in my team and with the knowledge of Joe Shear Jr. (crew chief) behind us; I think we will be just fine at all of them. Sure some of the veterans got to race at the tracks in the past, but I don't think we'll be behind.”
The first stop on the stretch will be at the 3/8-mile Lake Erie track, which hosted ASA for the first time in 2004. It's a track that Casey is looking forward to running at due to its similarities to Lanier National Speedway (GA), also a 3/8-mile track. Casey has finished third during ASA’s last two visits there.
“Joe said that it is similar to Lanier and that we will probably run a similar setup, so I am looking forward to that race because we always have done very well on those types of tracks. I like the little bullrings where you have to get up on the wheel and really drive the car for the whole time. We qualified second and finished third at Lanier and I think we can reasonably do the same thing at Erie. No two tracks are exactly alike, but I think we will have a good baseline and will just have to adjust on the car a little here and there during the day.”
Smith is coming off of a tough race weekend at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway. The team experienced both brake and engine problems that relegated them to a 27th-place finish and dropped them back to seventh in the point standings.
Casey already has two top-five finishes in the season's first three events and is only 64 points out of the top spot in the standings. He is one of only two drivers that finished in the top-five in two different events this season.
However, the team will have a new, or different, powerplant in the #19 unsponsored Dodge this weekend following the engine problems they suffered in Kentucky.
“We had to pull the motor out of our old car that is just sitting in the shop because we really hurt the main engine in Kentucky, as did so many other people. We were hoping to get a new one, but ASA only had one left and were waiting for some more from Lingenfelter, so we had to go this route. We were even thinking of sending our main engine in and getting it worked on, but there is a four week turnaround time on that and we weren't going to be able to get it back, so we had to go down this road. It's ok, though. This engine probably has about 10 total races on it if that, so I feel pretty good about things.”
Being from Texas, a trip to Pennsylvania, back to Texas, to Ohio, back to Texas and finally to Michigan and back would be too much on the hauler and everyone, so Smith and his cars will shack up with the ProCup Series' Bullet Racing team (with driver Gary St. Amant) in Ohio for the next couple of weeks.
“They wanted me to drive their ProCup car before they talked with Gary and I just couldn't commit to it at the time, but they are awesome people and they have offered up their shop and even an apartment for us to stay when we are up in that area. I can't thank them enough for that. It will save us a bunch of time and effort, not to mention a lot of money and wear and tear on our stuff.”
The team is searching for sponsorship for their run at ASA Rookie of the Year in 2004. For sponsorship inquiries, call (512) 282-6845 and be sure to check out for more information.