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USRA Super Late Models @ THR 4/29/06

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Texasspeedzone.com 125, presented by Magnum Trailers and Well Cargo/USRA Super Late Models @ Thunder Hill Raceway 4/29/06

By J M Hallas


Smith Smokes ‘em....Again in Super Late Model Sweep


The question for the second USRA Super Late Model event held on the 3/8 mile D-shaped oval would be if anyone had anything for Austin's own Casey Smith. Smith dominated the series opener at San Antonio Speedway back in March, setting quick time and taking the race by a big margin. If qualifying was any indication, the answer would be "No." The young hometown hotshoe was again fastest laying down a lap of 14.476 bettering the rest of the field by over a tenth.

“We’ve been working real hard over the off season and come out here and tested a bunch and it’s really paid off for us.” said Smith. “We’ve been running out of state with some of the toughest competition in late models and it’s really helped us when we come down here. You’ve got Chris Davidson who qualified second and he’s tough anywhere he goes. We’ve actually been working real close on the set ups.”

“I’m looking forward to tonight. I think we’ve figured out a little something, but you can lose that as fast as you figured it out. Racing is always changing. Hopefully we can stay on top of our game.”

“We didn’t change anything after qualifying,” added Smith. “We just untaped it. Hopefully I can keep that up all year. If you get back there with the squirrels, you’re going to get your nuts cracked. It’s nice to be up front. I’m not too concerned with starting outside. It’s a long race, 125 laps, I think I can work my up there with the kind of car we had in practice. I really think we have a chance to win it. Chris has got a real good car, too. It’s just going to be whoever gets out front that will have a chance to win. For late in the race I think I have the car that can get around them.”


After the draw for the invert, Chris Davidson found himself on the pole, the first time ever he's drawn the number 1 spot. "I usually draw a 4 or 6," said C. Davidson. "I think it was bringing my kids, I'll have to bring them along more often." At the start of the 125 lap texasspeedzone.com 125 C. Davidson was flanked by quick qualifier Smith. The duo stayed side by side through turns 1-2 and down the back stretch. C. Davidson was able to get the edge at the line to lead lap 1. Smith was able to fall in second, while teammate, Gary Buchanan got stuck out on the high side falling from fourth back in the field.


With Smith putting the heat on C. Davidson early, Jason Young, Bradley Riethmeyer and Matt Merrell battled for third through fifth. Smith then began to turn up the pressure letting C. Davidson know he was there in nearly every corner using the chrome horn. Lap 5, the contact stacked up the front of the pack, giving Merrell the chance to get a run on Riethmeyer for fourth.


Smith continued his assault on C. Davidson and was looking to get underneath coming out of turn 4. Meanwhile Greg Davidson was all over Cory Roper for sixth. G. Davidson did the bump and run a lap later to take the spot, with Buchanan following through to seventh. A lap later Todd McLemore and Brandon Bendele got by Roper for eighth and ninth. Merrell was able to get around Young for third on lap 23 which was just the start of Young's troubles. Young would roll to a stop in the grass outside turns 3-4 on lap 29 to bring out the yellow and end his night.


After the restart the top three began to inch away from Riethmeyer in fourth. Merrell began to fade by lap 40 and fell back into the clutches of Riethmeyer, G. Davidson and Buchanan. Smith would get into C. Davidson on lap 44 but back off and give C. Davidson the chance to get corrected.


Yellow would wave again on lap 46 when Buchanan and the lap car of Danny Pike got tangled in turn 4 and slid into the muddy infield. Red was shown on lap 49 to retrieve the cars with a minimum of mud drug onto the track. Once the race resumed, Bendele who had been steadily working his way up from back after his qualifying time was disallowed, started to trail some smoke and looked to have a small fire under the hood. After slowing and losing a few spots, Bendele regained speed and continued on with no signs of fire.


Up front the battle was still raging between C. Davidson and Smith with it coming to a head on lap 53. Smith got into the back of C. Davidson coming out of turn 2 causing C. Davidson to get a little sideways. This backed up the top six and gave Smith the opportunity to get by C. Davidson for the lead on lap 54. C. Davidson was able to get straightened out and soldier on without losing any more positions.


G. Davidson lost fifth to McLemore when he slid up the track on lap 55. McLemore continued his march to the front getting past Riethmeyer on lap 59 for fourth. Coming to the crossed flags, the lead duet of Smith and C. Davidson had begun putting distance on Merrell, McLemore and G. Davidson. Back in the field Alexander and Bendele got together with Bendele going hard into the turn 1 wall on lap 63.


On the restart, McLemore would start to look for a way past Merrell as the leaders motored ahead. McLemore and Merrell were door to door on lap 67 with McLemore getting the spot. G. Davidson and Riethmeyer both kept Merrell hung on the high side and got by as well. By lap 75 Smith was again threatening to stink up the race as began to get away from C. Davidson, who being slowly reeled in by McLemore.


The field was pretty well strung out by lap 80, with the only battle for position on the track between Merrell and newcomer, Johnathan Beason for sixth. Caution flew on lap 84 to check the track for oil. Under yellow Merrell pulled in to the pits and lost two laps. The race had just gone back to green when yellow was back out for McLemore, who appeared to have a fire under the car and possibly be the cause of the previous oil.


Once back under green, Smith wasted little time getting a car length on C. Davidson, who had a small gap back to his dad, Greg and Riethmeyer. Riethmeyer began to take looks under G. Davidson, while up front, Smith was increasing his margin on C. Davidson. With ten to go, Smith was again breaking everyone’s spirit pulling out to a two second advantage.


Smith would continue to increase that gap lap after lap and when the white flag was waved had built the lead up 4.32 seconds over C. Davidson, while G. Davidson got away from Riethmeyer in the scrap for third. As the checkers flew it was Smith in the Rapid Disposal, Gary Buchanan Custom Homes, BES Equipment, Texas Direct Homes, 5-Star Bodies, Hamke Chassis powered by a McGunigall crate motor. The win was two in the young Smith who was celebrating his birthday as well.

“We just had a great racecar,” replied Smith. “We were lucky to have in San Antonio and here. It’s definitely something we’ve been working for the past three years. This year we’ve got really got a sense of direction and got this car figured out. Joe Shear and I have been on the phone non-stop and got some stuff working that’s on Busch(series) car and stuff that no one’s figured out now. It’s definitely paying off. We’ve run good this year.”

“We’ve definitely got our stuff together right now, but that can change with the next race. You have to be on top of you set up all the time, we’re changing every race. We tested a lot here. I bet I’ve got 1000 laps testing here. That’s what’s made us pretty fast here. I just have to thank all my sponsors, and my mom and dad for working their tails off to get me here. It’s great to have people at the Busch and Cup levels to help out, too. They’re engineering new stuff everyday and we’re lucky to be part of that.”

“Chris and I roughed it up a lot, but this is Thunder Hill Raceway and stuff happens here. It’s kind of a gentleman’s agreement that you race someone the way they race you. Chris kind of ran us up the track on the front straightaway(at the start). I’d have probably done the same thing. It’s a good short track and the only way to pass is move them out of the way. You’ve got to do what you’ve to do(to win). We didn’t come here to run second.”





USRA Super Late Model results

1. (99) Casey Smith, Austin, TX, 125 Laps

2. (41) Chris Davidson, Pearland, TX, 125

3. (96) Greg Davidson, Pearland, TX, 125

4. (49) Bradley Riethmeyer, Hutto, TX, 125

5. (19) Kent Baltzell, Spring, TX 125

6. (36) Johnathan Beason, Broken Arrow, OK, 125

7. (03) Matt Merrell, Portland, TX, 123

8. (115) Lloyd Alexander, San Antonio, TX, 122

9. (54) Todd McLemore, Austin, TX, 96

10. (16) Danny Pike, Red Oak, TX, 95

11. (81) Brandon Bendele, San Antonio, TX, 63

12. (9) Gary Buchanan, Helotes, TX, 44

13. (04) Cory Roper, Vernon, TX, 41

14. (27) Jason Young, Houston, TX, 26

15. (35) Greg Davis, Waxahachie, TX, DNS

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