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Dustin Smith Aims for First Career LM Win at 5 Flags in Allen Turner PLM 100 Opener on Friday
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4/4/2024

4/4/2024

Five Flags Speedway


Dustin Smith Aims for First Career LM Win at 5 Flags in Allen Turner PLM 100 Opener on Friday

Dustin Smith Aims for First Career LM Win at 5 Flags in Allen Turner PLM 100 Opener on Friday

By Chuck Corder
5flagsspeedway.com reporter
Dustin Smith has been a bridesmaid at Five Flags Speedway too many times to count.
“It feels like I’ve finished second like 15 times,” Smith said.
The 26-year-old driver hopes a Pro Late Model win to close March at his hometrack of Mobile International Speedway is a wave of momentum to change the tide at Five Flags. Smith will be in Friday night's loaded field as the Allen Turner Hyundai Pro Late Models ring in the 2024 season at the famed half-mile asphalt oval. It marks the first of four 100-lap PLM races this year.
“We’ve been really close,” Smith said, lamenting the near-misses at Five Flags. “It definitely keeps me determined and focused. We stay working on our stuff.
“(Crew chief) Alex Query never stops working cars. I think he works in his sleep. Our program has definitely stepped up the past two years with Alex back with us. Hopefully, this year, we can get a lot more wins and not a lotta seconds.”

Also in action Friday at Pensacola’s high banks will be the Faith Chapel Outlaws (35 laps), The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen (25) and the Story and Bleich Crown Stocks (20). Admission is $15 for adults; $12 for seniors, military and students; $5 for children ages 6 to 11; and free for kids 5-and-under. Gates open at 5 p.m. Friday with qualifying set for 6:30 and the green flag dropping at approximately 8.

Dustin Smith—with the support of his father Mitch Smith, a short-track legend who’s helped with setups for close friends Bubba Gale and Okie Mason—has been a staple at Five Flags for more than a decade. His quest for his first checkered flag and a trip to Victory Lane at America’s favorite hometrack hasn’t waned one bit.

“I feel like a win would put our program where it needs to be,” Dustin Smith said. “We haven’t had that break yet, but it would definitely mean a lot. A lotta people come from around country just to get a win at Five Flags.”
He’ll pursue that ever-elusive victory with a stock crate motor he’s worried won’t stack up against the competition. However, this is also the same motor that was under the hood for his big win last week at Mobile.

“There’s a big difference between the two racetracks,” Smith said. “Pensacola is more of a motor racetrack and harder to get around while Mobile is all about momentum and you don’t need a big motor.
“All the guys running up front have built motors. We have two, but they’re getting refreshed, so we’ll be down a little bit of horsepower. If we can run in the top-10, top-five, I’ll be happy with that. Who knows, though? Maybe this motor will prove me wrong again.”

Smith started racing go-karts at age 8 and quickly was winning national titles, as he and his dad made stops in south Florida, Virginia and the Carolinas. He spent a year behind a Legends steering wheel before hopping into Late Models as a teenager.
The love for short-track racing comes from his father, who is a wealth of knowledge for all up-and-coming drivers in the Mobile area and along the Gulf Coast.
“The first team that he ever owned was with Okie Mason,” Smith said of his dad. “It’s progressed through the years. Dad and Bubba Gale bought a shop near Bellingrath (Gardens in Theodore). The first ‘Gale Force’ machine was built in our shop.”

Mitch Smith passed his passion for racing and making money down to his son. Dustin Smith not only followed in his father’s racing footsteps, but he also made sure to tail the business path Mitch Smith carved out.
“I own three scrap yards in Mobile and my own construction company,” Dustin Smith said. “I’m trying to learn how to make money like my dad.”
Up first Friday will be learning how to record his first career win at Five Flags.
“It’s gonna be a tough weekend,” Smith said candidly. “If we can take care of our equipment and I can beat (the field) through the corners, that will help us a lot.”


Article Credit: Chuck Corder

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