Smith Grades 2016 Season a B+, Earns Chili Bowl Ride From NASCAR Driver

Ryan Smith. (T.J. Buffenbarger Photo)

From Inside Line Promotions

KUNKLETOWN, Pa. (Nov. 23, 2016) – While his win total wasn’t what Ryan Smith had hoped for in 2016, he said this season was “one of the most consistent years” he has produced.

On the heels of the solid year Smith is excited to announce his opportunity to drive a midget at the 31st annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire Jan. 10-14 in Tulsa, Okla.

“When I was in Arizona (earlier this month) driving for Ryan Linder, he’s friends with Mickey Meyers, the crew chief on (NASCAR driver) Alex Bowman’s midget and we talked a little,” Smith said. “Things just fell into place after that. This isn’t a ‘rent-a-ride’ deal. It’s a great team and I’m excited for the opportunity to work with these guys.”

The 2017 Chili Bowl will mark the fifth time Smith has competed in the event.

“I haven’t been there in like three years,” he said. “And to be able to have this opportunity with a great team has me really pumped up.”

As for his 2016 sprint car season, Smith recorded one win, which came at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa. He scored 17 top-five finishes and 34 top-10 runs out of the 70 total races. He graded the season as a B+.

“That win at Williams Grove is huge to me,” he said. “I’ve been trying so hard over the past three years to get a win there. That was a huge hurdle for us to get over. In my book, with the competition that’s there, that one win should count as three.”

Smith said had just a few things gone the team’s way more wins would have come.

“If there’s luck in racing it really wasn’t on our side this year,” he added. “We had chances to get a few more wins. But it was one of the most consistent years I’ve had and consistency puts you in the hunt for wins.

“Other than the crash during the Kings Royal (at Eldora Speedway near Rossburg, Ohio), we didn’t tear up a lot of equipment and we didn’t have one engine failure this year. It wasn’t too costly of a year and that goes a long way with my owner and sponsors.

“I’m so appreciative of all the sponsors and partners that supported us this year. It’s no exaggeration that we couldn’t do this without each and every one of them.”

As for 2017, Smith said he and team owner Rob Warko are still finalizing the details.

“We’re putting together a game plan and we will wait and see what the track schedules look like,” Smith said.