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Clint Smith Hopes To End WoO Late Model Series Drought


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GA's Clint Smith Hopes To End Long World of Outlaws Late Model Series Win Drought At Swainsboro Raceway On Saturday Night (May 1)


SWAINSBORO, GA - April 28, 2010 - Maybe a World of Outlaws Late Model Series event in Clint Smith's home state will be the tonic he needs to bust out of a frustrating victory drought.


Smith, 45, of Senoia, Ga., couldn't pick a better place to snap a nearly two-year-long winless streak on the national tour than Swainsboro Raceway, which hosts the WoO LMS for the first time ever this Saturday night (May 1).


"I'd love to get it done at Swainsboro," said Smith, who is winless in his last 78 starts on a series that he has followed as a regular since 2004. "We don't get a chance to run Outlaw shows close to the house very often, so we're looking forward to it."


Of course, no one should mistake the three-eighths-mile Swainsboro oval as a hometrack for Smith. The speedway is located just over 160 miles southeast of his shop, and he hasn't entered more than a handful of races per season there since he frequented the track for a couple years in the late '80s while driving for a car owner from southern Georgia.


What's more, Smith has won features at Swainsboro, but not in more than 15 years. He also hasn't visited the track since promoter Paul Purvis completely resurfaced it two years ago with over 450 truckloads of deep red clay, so he'll effectively be experiencing new territory on Saturday night.


"I've heard it's a lot different now from when I ran there last," said Smith. "(The surface) used to be hard, but now it's more of a soft-tire (compound) type place with the new clay. It's supposed to be like Screven (Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Ga., where the WoO LMS visited last month) and Brunswick (Georgia's Golden Isles Speedway).


"Everything I've heard about the new surface tells me (Saturday) should be a good race. I think it'll be a place we'll feel comfortable at."


Smith's confidence entering Swainsboro's 50-lap, $10,000-to-win program obviously comes not from his knowledge of the track but rather his resurgence on the WoO LMS this season. Sitting behind the wheel of Rocket Chassis cars for the first time since '04, he's much more competitive than he was during a disappointing 2009 season – he had a top finish of third and won just a single heat race en route to placing a dismal ninth in the points standings – and appears ready to score his first tour win since June 17, 2008, at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway.


In fact, in the last 50-lap A-Main contested by the WoO LMS, on March 27 at Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore, Texas, Smith recorded a solid second-place finish. It was his best outing since his triumph in '08 and provided proof that he was indeed progressing.


"I was getting to where I didn't like racing, so (a runner-up finish) helps us get back to more of an even keel," Smith said after his morale-boosting run at Lone Star. "I feel like I'm racing with these guys now."


That wasn't the case for much of Smith's last two seasons on the WoO LMS trail. His program was sterling in 2007 – he won four times and finished a career-high third in the points race after leading the standings for nearly half the season – but he hasn't been able to recapture that magic. Last year was especially difficult for Smith, who managed just four top-five finishes on the tour.


"Me and my crew chief Darrell Cooper worked tremendously hard and we threw everything we could at it," Smith said of his '09 trevails. "But when you get to chasing your tail like a dog, before long you're going in circles. That's kinda what we got into at mid-season. It was frustrating to work so hard and not get any results, but the competition level is so tough out here with these (WoO) guys, if you're not at the top of your game you're in trouble."


As the lone WoO LMS regular driving a GRT chassis, Smith found himself at a disadvantage last year. He decided to join the bigger pool of travelers in the Rocket Chassis camp late in the 2009 season – thanks to sponsorship from Ernie Davis, who fields the cars that defending WoO LMS champion Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., runs in many non-Outlaw events – and the results have been encouraging.


"We got teamed with Mark Richards and Rocket Chassis and now we've been getting more information than we had been getting," described Smith. "We're working with Mark and the other (Rocket) drivers, including my best buddy Tim Fuller. Our shock program with Integra has really picked up, my motor program has stepped up with RaceTek and I've got a new crew man – Brad (Baum), who used to be with Chub Frank – helping Darrell and getting all my tires done, so we're more ahead of the game this year."


Smith currently ranks only 10th in the WoO LMS points standings, 134 points behind co-leaders Richards and 2006 champion Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y. But he thinks his points status doesn't quite tell the story of his improvement this season.


"We've been qualifying so much better this year," said Smith, who owns 11 career WoO LMS victories. "I think we really had it turned around (last month during a trip to Ocala, Fla., and Screven), but we had the motor issues that set us back and hurt us in the points. If we can get rid of the bad luck and start knocking out some top fives, we can get this points deal turned around."


Smith heads into this weekend's WoO LMS doubleheader, which begins on Friday night at Fayetteville (N.C.) Motor Speedway before heading to Swainsboro, hot off a valuable Tuesday-afternoon practice session at his hometown Senoia (Ga.) Raceway. With a fresh RaceTek engine buttoned under the hood of his J.P. Drilling No. 44, he's ready to pursue an elusive Outlaw checkered flag.


There will be plenty of top-notch competition for Smith to deal with at Swainsboro, including former WoO LMS champions Richards, McCreadie, Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., and Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., and Smith's fellow Peach State Outlaw Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., who joined Smith in the Tuesday test at Senoia. Also expected to provide a stiff challenge to Smith and the invading stars are Swainsboro's Chesley Dixon and brothers Ben and Jeremy Faircloth; Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga.; and John Henderson of Aiken, S.C.


Swainsboro Raceway's WoO LMS event on Saturday night will serve as the grand finale for three full days of activities that comprise the town of Swainsboro's annual Pine Tree Festival, which includes a Saturday-morning parade through the downtown streets. Several race cars and the track's pace truck will be part of the parade.


The speedway's pit gates are scheduled to open at 12 noon and the grandstands will be unlocked at 3 p.m. Practice is set to start at 6 p.m., followed by qualifying at 7 p.m. and racing at 8 p.m.


Racing for Swainsboro's crate Late Model, Road Warrior, Mini-Stock, Pure Stock and Super Street divisions will also be part of the show. The program includes features-only for all divisions except the WoO LMS and crate Late Models.


General admission is $25 and $15 for children 7-12. Pit passes are $35 and $20 for children 7-12.


More info on Swainsboro Raceway's inaugural WoO LMS event is available by logging on to www.swainsbororaceway.com or calling 478-252-1300 or 478-494-5005.


For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.

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