Cut Tire Dashes Casey Smith’s Chances at First Career Win at Five Flags Speedway
It looked as if round two race three of the 2012 Sunoco Gulf Coast Series Championship at the Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida was where Casey Smith was going to pick up his first career win at the track that host the annual Snowball Derby event.
However; it wasn’t to be as a cut tire would take away Casey’s chances after leading fifty-three consecutive laps during the midway portion of the event.
A ninth place qualifying effort put the #99 machine fifth row inside to take the green flag in the thirty car field. Smith showed he meant business early as he powered his way to the lead position just thirteen laps after taking the green flag. Casey continued to hold the top spot despite multiple restarts due to several early cautions and contact from the driver who has been a thorn in the #99 team’s side this season, Augie Grill.
Smith’s dominating performance continued to grow when the race hit the halfway point and he had already opened up a three quarter straightaway lead over the second place man Grill. Lap sixty-three saw the yellow flag displayed for a four car wreck involving several back marker cars, but more importantly it allowed Grill to close in for a shot at the lead. Just as expected Smith and Grill battled side by side beating and banging along the way before Grill eventually used enough muscle to take over the lead position.
Just after the battle for the lead subsided and Smith settled in to the second position the handle of his #99 SealMaster of Austin Chevy Impala went south in a hurry. With the field under caution and just twenty-five laps to go Casey was forced to come to pit road from the second place position to change a cut left rear tire that was caused by the contact with Grill battling for the lead. As a man on a mission Casey did all he could to get back to the front of the field but laps ran out before he could make a play at the lead once again and was forced to settle for a sixth place finish.
“We had the winning car we just didn’t win tonight. As usual every time you race around Augie (Grill) there’s going to contact and that cost us the race tonight when he cut down our left rear tire,” said Smith after the race. “This was the best car I’ve had at Pensacola at one of these Blizzard races in a long time so it’s pretty disappointing to finish sixth tonight. I did all I could to get back to the front we just ran out of laps.”
The following night at Mobile Int’l Speedway Smith didn’t quite have the car he did the night before. After qualifying sixth Casey battled a loose racecar before rallying for a seventh place finish. The top ten finish made it Smith’s six top ten finish in six season starts so far in 2012.
For more information on Texas super late model driver Casey Smith and his Casey Smith Racing team visit his website at www.caseysmithracing.com.