In 2015 Jack Smith reminded everyone that he’s a pretty good race car driver when he won three straight JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour races, including two at the intimidating Winchester Speedway. So far in 2016 Smith has proved to everyone that he’s also a pretty good crew chief too. He’s won two out of three races with Cody Coughlin and Team JEGS already.
Now this weekend, he’s ready to pull double-duty. Smith is going to attempt to be a crew chief and a driver for two different cars at the Masters of the Pros 144 at Missouri’s Lebanon I-44 Speedway. He’s going to race his own red No. 28 Pro Late Model, and turn the wrenches on Coughlin’s yellow No. 1 machine.
To make things easier for Smith, he said his car and Coughlin’s car will be parked side-by-side in the pit area. That will enable Smith and Coughlin to communicate easily and for Smith to be able to do whatever he needs to do.
“Both cars are already so close we’ll just have to fine tune them,” Smith told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We won’t have to throw a lot at it. We tested my car a little bit at Springport (Speedway, MI) and the car was really good. It’s the same setup I have under Cody’s car. It’s what I came up with last year when I was winning those races and it seems like it’s working.”
Smith, who is racing for the championship with the All-Stars Tour, said the biggest challenge will be making sure he accomplishes what he needs to get done for his own car while also making sure Coughlin gets what he needs to be fast as well.
“I’d be lying if I wasn’t thinking about his car too, but I told them when they first hired me that I was 100-percent committed to the JEGS Tour deal, and I was also 100-percent committed to their Super (Late Model) program,” Smith said. “I have to be careful because there’s a fine line of balancing this. I don’t want to leave him out on a limb. It’ll be tough, but I think it’ll work out.”
Since the Medina, Ohio native has yet to race this year, the itch has been getting stronger and stronger to do so. The passion to race has increased since going to victory lane twice with Coughlin recently in the cars he’s set up.
“I like being a crew chief and I’ve known Cody for years, but all my life I’ve driven race cars,” said Smith. “Just getting back in it will mean a lot. You know how much you miss it when you’ve been away from it for a while; I’m just ready to go.”
The winner of the Masters of the Pros 144 gets a spiffy green blazer similar to the one awarded to the winner of the Masters at Augusta National (GA) in professional golf. While Smith badly wants the win on Saturday night, he jokingly said he’s not too sure if the color green is a great fit for him.
“I don’t know about that,” he said with a laugh. “Someone asked me if I’d like that green jacket and I said ‘I don’t know; I’m not a golfer.’ But any trophy is nice. A green jacket would be a first for me for sure. It would be really cool to add that to my collection.”
But if Smith gets the jacket, that means he beat out Coughlin, who is an avid golfer.
“That’s been the talk for the last few weeks here,” Smith said with another laugh. “Kevin Hamlin (Coughlin’s Team Manager) said he’s going to put two shock collars on us to make sure neither of us does something stupid. But really, our ultimate dream would be first and second. I always like to win, but if I don’t, I’d like Cody to win and me to run second. At the end of the night that’s what we’re looking for, and I honestly believe that we can do that. Of course we’ve got Bubba Pollard coming and Nemechek and some of the local hot dogs that are going to be hard to beat, but I truly believe that both of us are going to be right there at the end.”
Speed51.com will carry live Trackside Now coverage presented by Earnest Performance throughout the day beginning at 12 p.m. CT on Saturday afternoon.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com