MOTOR NOTEBOOK: Young Smith steps up in class – Chron
Carl Smith was just a kid when he started showing up at A.J. Foyt’s race shop in Waller.
The then-12-year-old had been a family friend of the Foyts for four years and was big into racing.
Smith was the best go-cart racer in Texas, winning state championships from 2001 through 2004.
He also won national titles as an 11-year-old in 2000 and then again in 2005 when he was 16.
Now just days before his 19th birthday, Smith is ready to take the next step in his racing career when he will drive the No. 14 car in the United States Auto Club’s Silver Crown Series.
“The plan was to race ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America), but sometimes that is hit and miss (on being successful),” Smith said. “(Foyt) knew that we could be competitive in the USAC Series from the start.”
The Silver Crown Series is just the next progression for the young driver, who jumped from go-carts to Pro Modified cars at 17, and last year was named rookie of the year in the Pro Modified division at Houston Motorsports Park.
It will be a challenge for Smith, who will be driving a race car that is quite a bit lighter and has double the horsepower.
“Because of the weight and power, this series really teaches you how to work the throttle to keep the car going the way you want it to go,” Smith said. “I am looking forward to getting started.”
Smith, 18, will make his debut in the Foyt-backed car in the Silver Crown Series season finale at Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 6.
“We are just running this one race this year to get the feel of the car,” Smith said. “Then I will be ready to go for the full season in 2009.”
Three’s company for ST
Things are changing for ST Motorsports.
What was at one time recently just Ralph Burris Jr. running in the ASA Pro Late Models and Pro Modifieds will now be Burris, Bobby Hillin Jr. and Hannah Baker.
Team owner Tom Potts started Baker in her first race of the season Aug. 2, and Baker will be back behind the wheel in the Pro Modified class when racing resumes at Houston Motorsports Park.
“I love it,” Baker said about getting back on the track after a successful 2007 season. “It is amazing.
“Being out of a race car for the past nine months has been the worst thing that could have happened.”
Burris, who is in the running for the championship and is third in the points standings, has given up his seat in the No. 28 of the Pro Modified class for the next race so Hillin can get some time in a race car.
“It is all about just having fun and enjoying the competition,” Hillin said. “To be able to go out and race without the pressure of doing it for a living, really makes it enjoyable.
“I am glad to be able to do it again.
“It is also good for my business. It is just an opportunity for us to have a good time.”
Hillin, a former NASCAR Sprint Cup driver who was the youngest driver to eclipse 200 mph, will have to wait to get his opportunity behind the wheel since tonight’s program was canceled because of inclement weather.
Young Foyt struggling
This season hasn’t gone quite like A.J. Foyt IV would have liked.
Despite three top 10s and 14 laps led this season, the grandson of racing legend racer A.J. Foyt Jr. has not been able to put together a string of those types of finishes to be a contender in the point standings.
After a promising fifth-place finish at the Ethanol IndyCar 250 in Iowa, things have gone downhill for the Hockley native.
In the six races after Iowa, Foyt has an average finish of 19th, which includes a best of 12th in Edmonton.
russ.goodall@chron.com

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