After close to nine months out of a racecar, Casey Smith is ready to make the journey from the Lone Star State back to the Sunshine State this coming Friday night for the combination opening round of the 2018 Deep South Cranes Blizzard Series and third round of the Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco at Five Flags Speedway.
While he hasn’t been busy behind the wheel, the 2015 Southern Super Series champion has been busy in the garage to make a run at some trophies in the coming days.
“I'm excited. We built a new Hamke car. We didn't race a whole lot last year so I'm excited to be back. Hope we can start off doing good. It's pretty tough. First race with a new car is always gutsy when you’ve got some bugs to work out. Hopefully it's nothing too big,” Smith told Speed51.com.
Away from the garage and track, life has been both good and busy for the native Texan. Now he is using his good fortune to help turn around his fortunes on the race track, starting this Friday in Pensacola.
“I've just been working. We are fortunate that the economy is really good here in Texas, so it's been non-stop. We were struggling with the chassis we had before, and I felt like if we couldn't be competitive we didn't need to be racing. So we regrouped, got a different engine plan and chassis. I'm not expecting to go down there and set the world on fire. We want to make some gains this weekend, learn, and then get back to our winning ways and being up front before too long.”
Smith’s relationship at the ‘Home of the Snowball Derby’ has been an up-and-down one, going back and forth between consistent and tumultuous. Most of the troubles have come during the mid-season while trying to find an ideal setup for the Derby. This season, he hopes to find some consistency the whole way through.
“It's been one of those places where we've been really fast and we've struggled a lot too. Seems like every year we run the Derby we do well, but sometimes throughout the summer we struggle a little bit with this. You start trying stuff for the Derby, learn what doesn't work, and be sure not to show up in December with the same stuff. The track is real temperamental with heat this time of the year there's so many factors that go into it than any other. It's one of those places you love to hate, but you certainly want to run well there.”
Even with the possibility of ‘new-car woes’ as a high possibility, Smith believes he can do well come Friday night. Perhaps even having a shot at victory lane.
“I think we do have a chance. This is the type of chassis that (Preston) Peltier sat on the pole with at the Snowball. Donnie Wilson always runs a Hamke Chassis and he is good wherever he goes. I know equipment wise we should be there, it's just a matter of finding the right combinations. I feel like we can go there, run in the top five, and contend. I only raced three races last year. It's a lot of time out of the seat so you have to take that into consideration. If we get a top five I'll be happy, but we always go in to win the race, but it's asking a lot.”
Beyond Friday, Smith plans to run the remaining three Blizzard Series events as well as the Snowball Derby at Five Flags. Other plans include running the All-American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (TN) in October, plus the Southern Super Series events at Crisp Motorsports Park (GA), Montgomery Motor Speedway (AL), and the Southern Super Series season finale Mobile 300 at Mobile International Speedway (AL).
Race fans can watch Friday’s Southern Super Series/Blizzard Series 125-lap event at Five Flags Speedway on Speed51.com for $14.99. Click here to order.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com