Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Smith Looks Forward To MMP

With top-five finishes at Miller Motorsports Park in 2008 and 2009, Moses Smith (No. 16 HASA Pool Products/White Flyer Toyota) is looking forward to this year’s return of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West to the 3.048-mile road course.

The series heads back to the Tooele, Utah, track this week for the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts Bonus Challenge on Sunday, Sept. 12. The West’s oldest stock car racing circuit will be part of a big racing weekend at MMP that includes the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series on Saturday, Sept. 11.

Smith is hopeful of building on his success of the last two seasons at the motorsports complex west of Salt Lake City.

“We’ve really been trying to develop our road course program at the other two races, Infineon and Portland,” he said. “After Portland, we brought the car home and tore it all down and tried to get it so it will be even better. Hopefully, we’ll get to Miller and get a podium finish. We’re so close, finishing in the top five the last two times.”

Smith came to NASCAR with a road racing background, but after three full seasons in the series, he admits that he no longer has as much of a preference for turning left and right.

“A year ago, I would have said I prefer the road courses,” Smith said. “But this year, we’ve really worked on our short track program and we’ve had better results on the short tracks than the road courses.”

Now, it’s a matter of improving the road racing car, according to Smith.

“We’re still trying to develop our road course package and get a car that’s going to be as competitive as our short track car,” he said. “I think we’re getting closer. We’re getting closer every race. I love going to the road courses, because that’s like home to me. We’ve just had some tough luck at those events.”

Smith’s overall success this year has landed him in the middle of a very tight points battle. He is sixth in the championship standings, with three top-five and five top-10 finishes in the first nine races. But with just 54 points separating the five drivers in fourth through eighth, a driver can move multiple positions up or down with a good finish or a bad finish.

Naturally, Smith has mixed feelings about being in such a tight battle.

“If we have a good weekend, I love how tight they are, because I can shoot up three or four spots,” he said. “But when we don’t do so well, I don’t like how tight it is, because we can drop three or four spots. But it makes it pretty neat. I like how close we are all running.”

Smith is optimistic, meanwhile, of being able to close out with strong performances in the three races remaining on the schedule.

“I’m hoping the points stay tight and we can keep moving up the ladder,” he said. “I’d love to finish in the top three for the championship. It’s going to be some work and we’re going to need some luck over the next few races, but I think it’s still doable.”

Smith, who made his 50th series start at Colorado, was asked if a milestone like that is important to him as a driver.

“I think it gives us a good point to see how we’ve been progressing,” he said. “I think it’s really important. I think this season, in the last eight to 10 races, we’ve really come along as a team and I’m getting more comfortable in the cars.

“The guys on the team are awesome,” he said. “I think they’re the best in the series. It’s taken a little while. It’s nice to use that 50th race as a benchmark to see how we’re progressing.”

By Kevin W. Green

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