Sammy Smith is in one of the most coveted rides in all of short track racing as the driver of the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 Toyota. And the 16-year-old racer has wasted little time in taking advantage of the opportunity before him. Already in this coronavirus-interrupted season the Iowa native has won on the opening night of Super Late Model competition in the World Series of Asphalt at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway on his way to a fourth place finish in the overall standings of that eight-race extravaganza that runs in the days leading up to NASCAR’s Daytona 500.
Smith’s impressive run in the 2020 version of the World Series of Asphalt came just one year after he had been crowned as the champion in the Pro Late Model division of that same mini-series.
Also in 2020, Smith has earned a top-5 finish in the prestigious Rattler 250 at the South Alabama Speedway. The driver barely old enough to drive an automobile on the street currently sits third in the CARS Super Late Model Tour standings after scoring a pair of top-10 results at the historic Hickory(NC) Motor Speedway and placing second to Bubba Pollard at the Jennerstown(PA) Speedway.
“We had a good start to the season,” Smith declared in an interview with InsideCircleTrack.com. “We won my first Super Late Model race with this team(New Smyrna). We struggled for a couple of races after that and now we’re getting back on pace. Seth Holbrook(crew chief) and my crew have been bringing me great cars to the track.”
Smith most recently recorded a top-10 finish in the Gandrud Auto Group Dixieland 250 on Tuesday night at Wisconsin International Raceway.
As is the case with most racers, Smith’s journey to his current station in the sport began at an early age. And his passion for racing, and winning, have grown ever since.
“My dad got me into it,” Smith explained. “I really enjoy racing. It’s a passion I have and I just love to win. I started out in go-karts then went to Legends cars and now this is my second year in Late Models. I was about eight when I started running go-karts and then 12 when I was running Legends Cars and last year is when I started with Late Models.”
But even after having won dozens of Legends Cars races and the previously mentioned Pro Late Model success, how did such a young driver wind up racing for Kyle Busch Motorsports in what is essentially the banner carrier for the NASCAR champion’s Rowdy Manufacturing enterprise?
“Toyota Racing Development has helped me a lot over the last two years,” Smith pointed out. “It kind of just happened through Toyota and they set it up and I can’t thank them and TMC Transportation enough for all they have done to help my career. I’ve talked to Kyle many times and he’s a really good guy. He’s very smart and he helps me out a lot.”
The teenager has been able to benefit from his star owner’s knowledge and experience.
“He helps me with the on-track stuff,” Smith stated. “We haven’t really sat down and watched video but over the phone we’ve talked a lot about things like when we go to new tracks that he’s been to and I haven’t. The experience that he has helps me out a lot.”
Many might think there is added pressure that comes with driving for Kyle Busch but Smith disagrees. No matter the situation, he knows that performance is what ultimately matters.
“There’s not really that much added pressure,” Smith insisted. “I’ve just got to go out and perform. If I was running a different super and not a KBM car it would be the same thing. You’ve got to go out and win if you want to make it places.”
So what is the end goal for this up-and-coming star in the motorsports world?
“Hopefully a NASCAR Cup champion. I’ve got a long way to go, but that’s my goal- to be a Cup champion and to win a lot of races up to that point.”
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association
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