Casey Smith Leads the Most Laps in the 44th Annual Snowball Derby in Route to Tenth Place Finish
Austin, TX 12/7/11- Sometimes one race can make or break your racing season; for Texas native Casey Smith a tenth place finish in the 44th Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida made his 2011 season. The finish put an exclamation point on what otherwise was a unsatisfactory year for the twenty-six year old driver who struggled a bit to start the year off before challenging for the win in two of the biggest super late model events in the country to close out the 2011 calendar year.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been this pleased with a tenth place finish before in my life,” stated Casey after he climbed out of his #99 Smith Paving/SealMaster Chevy Impala. “We had the broken axel at the World Crown which kept us from seeing the checkered flag, but this week we lasted the entire 300 lap event and came away with a respectable finish after racing for the win after making our way up front.”
The “making our way up front” phrase Smith is referring to is the path he took to make the country’s most prestige short track racing in the country. After never practicing outside the top ten on the speed charts, Casey qualified in the thirty-fourth position just missing out of the top thirty drivers who automatically got locked into Sunday’s main event. Those competitors who didn’t make that cut, which included Smith, were forced to a last chance race. The race was no more than a showcase to fans on how good Casey’s car would be in race trim as he dominated the fifty lap race earning the thirty-first starting position in Sunday’s 44th edition of the race.
“No one ever wants to run a last chance race especially when it’s to race in the Snowball Derby, but looking back now that I’m in the show it was a huge help for us to have an idea of what we need to do to the car better for the race,’ said Smith.
Unlike recent years the early and often yellow flags the Snowball Derby produces didn’t occur, allowing Casey to pick off cars one by one making his way through the field. Sixty-two laps in Smith was noticed as a “fast mover” by fans after he had made his way to the seventeenth position. Just a few laps later the yellow would be displayed on behalf of last year’s winner Johanna Long making contact with the wall. This was the opportunity for Smith’s over the wall crew from North Carolina to shine, and that they did as Casey picked up fourteen positions on pit road and moved to the third position.
The crew put Casey in position to lead and he did the rest as he took the top spot just a few laps shy of the half-way point. Over the next seventy plus laps Smith paced the field at timed building up a straightaway lead over his closest competitor. On lap 215 Smith lost the lead to Five Flags Speedway regular DJ Vanderley. A caution once again just five laps later brought the leaders to pit road for their final four tire stop of the day. The stop put eventual winner Chase Elliot in the top spot with Casey just two positions back setting up a forty lap shootout to decide the winner. The combination of a bad set of tires or the bending of the sway bar bracket which had plagued the team throughout the week sent Casey’s #99 machine fading. Regardless, Smith showed his talents and fought hard to secure a tenth place finish in the final laps that saw more than its fair share of action.
“It was crazy there at the end and I was doing all I could do to hold on to what I had. We had such an awesome car all day, and it really showed when we lead all those laps and then all of a sudden when we put on that last set the car totally went away,” explained Casey. “I don’t know if it was a bad set of tires or that sway bar giving us trouble again. I sure would have liked to race with Elliot and Vanderley for the win because I think we could have had something for them at the end but who really knows unless you are there. The way our year has gone I’ll take this tenth place finish with the car in once piece and to have lead the laps we did today it was a good Derby for us.”
Stay tuned to www.caseysmithracing.com for news and information about Casey Smith’s 2012 racing plans.
– Tex Motorsports Marketing Press Release