SMITH UPSET OVER PENALTY, WILL CARRY ON by Jeremy Troiano
Former Point Leader Says Race Damage Caused Car to Be Low
Rookie Casey Smith had less than 48 hours to savor the feeling of being the ASA National Tour point leader. After finishing third at Lanier he took over the lead from Travis Kittleson, but his unsponsored number-19 had trouble in post-race tech. ASA officials decided to dock Smith 25-driver and owner-points for a “ride height violation on No. 19 Smith Racing Dodge” according to a statement on ASA's website (asaracing.com). The team was also fined 10 percent of his total earnings for the event.
“It all happened because we got into it on the track with some cars during the race,” said Smith, who now sits third in the point standings after the penalty. “It went three-wide one time with (Mike) Garvey and (Toby) Porter; we all banged pretty hard. We also got some damage from when Butch (Miller) spun us out during that one caution flag. Our upper A-frame was bent and the eye on the shock popped and the shock settled about 3/16-inch. We were fine in pre-qualifying tech.
“ASA told us we were too low and they were going to discuss it. They called us on Monday and told us about the penalty. I'm not too happy about it, but oh well. We are still going to be a threat to win the championship. They may not like the fact that a little team with no money is beating some of these better funded teams.”
Technical Director Kim Shaver stated ASA's decision for the penalty.
“After the race is over, we have a ride height rule that all cars must abide by,” said Shaver. “We allow them to add fuel and change the air
pressure, but after that they need to meet the ride height requirement. We put the (#19) car on the scales and it did not meet the requirements. We backed it off the scales and put it back on and it failed again.
“The crew chief was then informed. We took it in the building and in the tech shed. We gave them every opportunity to make it right. We even took it to the extent of jacking the car up where myself and another official looked under the car to look and see if anything was bent on the suspension. We did not see anything that was bent on the suspension that would warrant the fact that the car was low. That is the reason we had no other choice to go with the penalties.”
Smith and his team are not yet sure if they are going to appeal the penalty.
Without the penalty, Smith would be the ASA point leader heading into Kentucky.
“I don't know if it would do us any good,” added Smith. “They told us that if we tried to appeal the penalty, they would also get us for Joe (Shear Jr., a consultant for Casey's team) getting interviewed on TV without a crew shirt on. Heck, he is just a consultant for us and a couple of other teams out there. He isn't our crew chief. My dad is my crew chief.”
“A finding like that is actually not appeal-able,” said Wellman, Vice President of Competition Administration for ASA. “Traditionally, we've listened to what the team has had to say. If they have submitted to us something in
Casey Smith said the penalty was the result of damage occured during the race.
writing, we have listened, but technically, it is not appeal-able from what the rule book itself says.
“We discussed (the Joe Shear Jr. situation) with them. Joe Shear was presented as their crew chief for the weekend and was interviewed on TV. We have certain regulations with the crew and having them properly attired. He had on a t-shirt and jeans, yet was being represented on television as the crew chief for the weekend. We told them that if someone is going to serve in that capacity and is actively participating in the event as a representative of the team, the individual needs to be properly attired with the look (ASA’s mandated team “look” as mandated in the rule book). Per our appearance requirement, there could have been additional penalties in that, but we are not going to address that with them at this time. Basically, we told them to refrain from them letting that occur again.”
Smith also talked of ASA's one-sidedness toward penalties levied toward him and not Mike Cope, who approached Casey's car after the event to discuss his displeasure with what Cope thought, was rough driving by the teen.
“They put me on probation for going into Boris' (Jurkovic) pit last year at Illiana, so they better do the same to Mike Cope,” Smith said. “I just want them to be fair about it. He came over after the race and leaned in my car and shouted at me and told me the next time I race him like that I'll taste the wall. They better do something about that, because it was uncalled for.”
Wellman countered, saying “We didn't know anything about the Cope situation until Casey's father addressed it with us yesterday. Kim (Shaver) is trying to get in contact with the official that was nearby when that allegedly took place. We are trying to investigate what happened there. If there was something that occurred there, it will be addressed. We are not going to ignore that.
“However, it is not an apples-to-apples comparison. We didn't witness it and weren't aware of it until late (Monday). Right now, there is nothing being done because we don't have all of the details or facts yet.”
In the end, Smith will keep his head up and keep gunning for the points lead.
“The $500 isn't as big of a deal as the 25 points are. That could be the difference of $200,000 at the end of the year. They can keep the money; we will find that elsewhere, but those points hurt. I guess they just didn't want the little guy leading the points. We are going to make up those 25 points though. All I need to do is qualify on the pole five times. I am not sounding cocky, but this has me even more determined.”
“(ASA Owner) Steve (Dale) called dad (Casey's father and crew chief Glen) and wanted to make sure we didn't think they were penalizing us just because it is us. I don't know if they are or if they aren't, but we are not going to let that bother us. We are going to go out there and just race even harder now.”
To ASA’s credit, a rule is a rule. Sometimes though, there are extraneous circumstances and in the dark of the Georgia night (even with flashlights), the bent parts on Casey Smith’s machine may have been difficult to see.
Smith is upset Mike Cope hasn't been punished for coming over to his car after the race.