For Immediate Release
7 November, 2012
Atlanta Motor Speedway—U.S. Legend Car International Driver Garrett Smithley journeyed to AMS for the highly competitive Semi-Pro division in the #43 car, assisted by long-time sponsors Peachtree City Golf Cars and Xelk Visual Communications. Despite being back on his home track on the flat ¼ mile Smithley was clearly an underdog to the first third of a 26 car field, many of which were well-funded, perennial powerhouse teams.
Wednesday practice showed that there was more set-up work to do if Smithley was going to be competitive with the front-runners. Capable adjustments were made for practice on day 2 by Clanton Racing’s Rusty Clanton, resulting in marked improvement with speed charts in the top 5. Late day qualifying for Garrett yielded a good 8th place out of 26.
The first semi-pro heat race on Friday saw Garrett crossing the line with a strong second place finish. Starting at the rear of the second 10-lap heat, the #43 car was great, with Smithley steadily picking his way through traffic. Coming to the line out of turn #4 for the white flag, he took the lead, only to be spun on the back stretch by a local driver. With a disappointing 9th place finish in what had been an excellent showing, Garrett’s starting position fell from 4th to 11th for the Semi-pro feature. “We had a great car that was peaking at the right time so our finish was really disappointing,” Smithley said.
The #43 car rolled off the trailer Saturday morning with optimism that the car had been strong the day before, with no damage found from the spin. Just a few hot laps in the “last chance practice” verified that the car was still good and fast.
From the green flag to lap #16 of the 40 lap feature, Garrett picked-off car after car, advancing from 11th to 2nd place when what can only be termed a “wreckfest” ensued. Following the first caution, #43 was spun and went to the pits to check the car, with no significant damage found. Restarting in last place Smithley again steadily advanced to mid-pack of the 26 car field. However, there was wreck after wreck, racing wheel to wheel with other cars and Smithley suffered a hard hit on the left side in middle of turn #3, brining out the caution with yet another restart from the back.
Over the next 11 laps, Garrett again advanced in the field, earning unofficial honors from the pit crew for most cars passed. Track officials grew weary of caution after caution and with the feature exceeding one hour in duration the word was given on lap 26 that there would be four laps remaining for 30 total, shortening the race by 10 laps. At the checkered flag, Garrett took a strong 7th place finish right on the tail of the 6th place car, a former AMS champion. “I really wish we had those last 10 laps back, because I know we had a top 5 car,” he remarked. “It would have been interesting to see how far up I could have gotten.”
Garrett sincerely thanks Dave and Terri Marin of Peachtree City Golf Cars, Inc. for the amazing opportunities to represent them not only at Nationals, but for the past several years in the #43 car. “It has been an awesome ride,” Garrett said, “and I can’t thank them enough.” He also would like to thank Curtsinger Trailers and Storage, Zelk Visual Communications, Racerboost.com, Mom, Dad and brother Kurtis for all their dedication, help and support. He is looking forward to a bright future with some potentially big things to come in 2013. Stay tuned!