OCALA, Fla. (February 14, 2017) – It took a few nights to work out the kinks, but Ryan Smith likes the direction the new Leidig/Warko/Smith racing team is heading.
Smith kicked off the sprint car season with the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions last weekend at Bubba Raceway Park during the Bubba Army Winter Nationals. Following minor setbacks during the first two nights of racing, a top-10 result on Saturday lifted spirits.
“We got faster every night,” Smith said. “Bubba’s is a tough place and we had some pretty stout competition. We made a lot of headway and by Saturday we were pretty fast.”
The tripleheader event began on Thursday when driveline problems had the team scrabbling from the beginning of the night. Smith qualified 27 th quickest before placing eighth in a heat race and fifth in the B Main to miss locking into the main event by only one position.
“The car was all bound up,” Smith said. “Luckily they had to do a lot of track work and we got the time to change the driveline. We finished fifth in the B and were the first alternate. They pushed all the cars out for the main event and the All Star officials said we were done so we went back to the trailer and started getting the car ready for the car wash. We had the side panels off and Aaron Reutzel comes pulling into the pits. I literally dove in the car and the guys were trying to put the side panels back on. We started and parked, but we made the show.”
Smith was credited with a 26th-place result after exiting the race early.
Unfortunately, the team endured another setback Friday. After qualifying 20 th quickest overall and advancing from sixth to fourth place in his heat race to qualify for the feature, Smith experienced tough luck as a torsion stop broke before the race began, which relegated the team to a DNS.
“Then we got to the track Saturday morning and we had issues with the trailer door,” he said. “But once we got the car out it was a rocket all night. We just had a lot of little issues to overcome, but everything is going in the right direction.”
Smith’s strongest result came during the finale when he timed in 16 th quickest overall before he won a heat race to lock into the dash. Smith placed fourth in the dash before closing the night with a 10 th-place result in the main event.
“My mom and dad (Randy and Denise Smith) got to come down and watch me race,” Smith said. “They don’t get that chance during the summer because of their business. I haven’t gotten to race with my dad in years and it meant a lot to have them here. When we had problems dad jumped right in to help and he and Tom (Leidig) got along great.”
The Leidig/Warko/Smith team will battle with the All Stars this Wednesday and Thursday at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., before taking on the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series stars at the half-mile track Friday through Sunday.