(Austin, TX) It’s always good to “come home for the Holidays.” For Cody Smith, who just celebrated his 19th birthday on Aug. 17, this Labor Day weekend turned out to be a very good trip home.Almost two years to the day of his last TSRS (Texas Super Racing Series) victory on the same race track (the 3/8th-mile asphalt oval that is Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle, TX), Smith (La Vernia, TX) held off the challenge of ’08 TSRS points leader Heath Stewart for 56 laps to take the checkers in the Back To School 75, sponsored by the H-E-B store located at William Cannon Drive/Brodie Lane in Austin.
Smith, the 2006 TSRS Rookie of the Year and Runnerup Champion, is currently driving for Allen-Hock Motorsports in the ASA Late Model Series Southern Division. But he and his RTM Construction race team have been running TSRS races this season to give the youngster some valuable “seat time.”
Smith, driving the #05 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, is sponsored by RTM Construction, Spreen Racing Engines, TRC Race Cars, Salazar Family Racing, Swenson Racing and Screen Pro Graphics.
“I’m thrilled with this win,” stated Smith, who’s also supported by his crew (crew chief Jeff Smith, Tom & Barbara Smith, Adam Salazar, Adam Salazar, Raymond Salazar, Gilbert Salazar and others). “It feels good to get out there and win a race again. Our team and sponsors worked very hard today and this week and they deserve this win as much as I do.”
Stewart (Del Valle, TX) took second place. Robert Barker (Boerne, TX), who was celebrating his 36th birthday on Saturday, came in third. Rounding out the Top 5 was 15-year-old Jake Kruger (Bastrop, TX) and 2005 TSRS champ Chris Schild (Leander, TX).
The remaining top 10 finishers included Moczygemba (San Antonio), who finished sixth; Adam Haugh (Round Rock, TX); Bobby Teer, Jr. (Comfort, TX); Cary Stapp (San Marcos, TX); and, Chad Menard (Castroville, TX).
This past Saturday night, Smith enjoyed the view from the lead position the entire 75 laps. He finished third in qualifying (he ran a 15.509, behind Stewart’s 15.385 and Brian Moczygemba’s 15.484) but drew the pole position in the invert draw.
After an early-race caution forced a restart, Smith guided his #05 car around in the lead, followed by Schild, Kruger, Stewart and Barker. While Smith held off the charges of Schild, Stewart started making his way up field, passing Barker for fourth on Lap 2 then Kruger on Lap 5 for third place.
After a restart following the second caution on Lap 11, Stewart started finding the inside groove and eventually passed Schild (on the inside of Turn 2) on Lap 19 for second place.
Soon after, the third caution flag waved, setting up the following restart on Lap 24: Smith, Stewart, Kruger, Barker, Schild, Haugh, Moczygemba, Menard, Stapp, Dillon Spreen, Teer, Mike Reininger, Lloyd Alexander, Allen Alexander and Mike Cullen.
The worst and most unfortunate caution of the race came on Lap 33. Spreen – a 14-year-old from Boerne, TX – spun out in Turn 2. The yellow flag flew and the traffic slowed up around him. After the race, the Rookie of the Year candidate, who was still sitting sideways in Turn 2, said he was just waiting for the traffic to get by him before getting his car straightened out. However, Reininger’s #84 came around and smashed the front end of Spreen’s car and the talented youngster’s night was over.
Both Smith and Stewart challenged each other throughout the rest of the race, with Stewart waiting for Smith to slip up and “open a door.” To his credit, the 33-year-old Stewart had several chances to “bump” Smith out the way, but as is his demeanor, Stewart showed good sportsmanship and didn’t, waiting instead for Smith to slip up.
The “slip up” never happened, and Stewart himself got loose coming out of Turn 4 on Lap 71, giving Smith the “comfort” of a car-length lead as they crossed the finish line.
“I appreciate Heath Stewart racing me clean,” Smith stated. “I knew it’s be a tough race with him, (Jake) Kruger, (Robert) Barker and (Chris) Schild behind me. I just kept running my line and trying to stick to it. When I had the lead my adrenaline was running high; my crew helped keep me calm throughout the race.”
The series returns Thunderhill Raceway on Saturday, Sept. 13 for another 75-lap feature race – it will be the second-to-last race of the 2008 season.
Information on TSRS can be found at www.manracingpromotions.com. Information about THR can be found at www.thunderhillraceway.com.
*Cody Smith’s win was his third career TSRS victory, placing him in a tie for 7th place on the all-time TSRS list. He is now tied with 3 wins with Robert Barker, Mike Yale, Brad Hudak and John Heil.
*Heath Stewart, who was fast qualifier for the Back To School 75, now sits alone in second place on the all-time TSRS Fast Qualifier list. Stewart broke a tie with Brad Hudak on Saturday; he now trails only current TSRS driver Chris Schild, who’s been fast qualifier a record 13 times.
By Chuck Licata
OFFICIAL RESULTS, TSRS ‘Back To School 75’
AUGUST 30, 2008
TSRS LATE MODELS “BACK TO SCHOOL 75”
Position, Car No., Laps Completed, Qualifying Time
1. 05 Cody Smith, La Vernia, TX, 75, 15.509
2. 1 Heath Stewart, Del Valle, TX, 75, *15.385
3. 17 Robert Barker, Boerne, TX, 75, 15.526
4. 14 Jake Kruger, Bastrop, TX, 75, 15.579
5. 7 Chris Schild, Leander, TX, 75, 15.540
6. 50 Brian Moczygemba, San Antonio, TX, 75, 15.484
7. 12 Adam Haugh, Round Rock, TX, 75, 15.771
8. 2 Bobby Teer, Jr., Comfort, TX, 75, 15.866
9. 99 Cary Stapp, San Marcos, TX, 75, 15.724
10. 51 Chad Menard, Castroville, TX, 75, 15.902
11. 4 Lloyd Alexander, San Antonio, TX, 75, 15.761
12. 55 Michael Cullen, Buda, TX, 74, 16.038
13. 84 Mike Reininger, San Antonio, TX, 66, 16.375
14. 01 Allen Alexander, Converse, TX, 59, 15.831
15. 81 Dillon Spreen, Boerne, TX, 32, 15.825
16. 6 Jason Hollander, Cedar Park, TX, 21, DNQ
17. 20 Leroy Farmer, San Antonio, TX, 8, 17.545