In recent years, there have not been a lot of sightings of Casey Smith at tracks outside the Lone Star State. Since winning the 2015 Southern Super Series title, struggles with his Super Late Model program forced Smith into rebuild mode, with a 2019 Snowball Derby DNQ being the final straw.
After a successful 2020 in Texas, predominantly with his Open-Wheel Modified, Smith made a triumphant return to Five Flags Speedway, starting from the pole and finishing runner-up in the Modifieds of Mayhem season finale on Snowball Derby weekend.
Now, with a newly built Super Late Model ready for on-track testing, Smith is heading east later this week to get back in action, as well as get the Modified win that got away last winter.
“We got a new Super Late Model, so we’re going to take advantage of being able to race the Modified, as well as testing the Late Model in one trip. It worked out to do both. We weren’t planning on racing the Modified much at all this year, but we decided to load it up and see if it’s as fast as it was in December,” Smith told Speed51.
Post COVID shutdown, 2020 was a busy year deep in the heart of Texas for Smith, who ran the full Modified schedule at Houston Motorsports Park. There, he returned to his championship ways while laying the ground work for a new Late Model effort.
“The Modified was fast last year at Houston, we won quite a few races there along with the track championship. It was really disappointing to not have a Late Model to take to the Snowball Derby after we scaled back for a while, to try and revaluate our Late Model program, and change everything up. Now that we’ve done that, we hope we can go back and compete every chance we get.”
Originally, Smith was set on making his SLM return in March on Rattler weekend at South Alabama Speedway. But compounded delays, including a brief bout with COVID-19 have pushed those plans now to June.
“We’re going to run all of the Blizzard races and try to focus on having a car that will run well in December at the Derby. We’re also going to try and run some other Southern Super Series races as well the rest of the year. We had planned on running the majority this year, but different things like COVID and getting parts delayed us. Hopefully it’s ready to win now.”
Not only will the Texan return to the SLM ranks with new equipment, but he himself is not the same driver that won the 2015 Southern Super Series title. For the past two years, Smith has run at various dirt tracks in Texas in Dwarf Cars, collecting some wins along the way too. This coming winter, he plans to follow up his Snowball Derby return with a debut appearance in another great short track event.
“Been running a Dwarf Car for a good friend, that’s been friends with us for about 30 years Gary Buchannan and Alan Buchannan. They have a Dirt Dwarf Car and Midget, which I haven’t raced yet. We were supposed to go race the Chili Bowl with it, but we all got COVID in January. We’re going to try and run a few races with the Midget, then go to the Chili Bowl next year.”
While his dirt time is still limited, the experience he has gained in a short time may just prove invaluable going forward.
“I haven’t run much dirt at all, about eight races last year and five the year before. It’s new to me and I enjoy it. It’s certainly a challenge, but it’s something I think really helps me drive even better. Some of the best drivers in the country, Larson, Bell, some of the best drivers in NASCAR race dirt week in and week out. A lot of the car control comes from that. It’s been a great experience.”
See the Modifieds of Mayhem along with the Allen Turner Hyundai Pro Late Model Series live from Five Flags Speedway (FL) on Speed51.TV this Friday, May 21.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51