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SOPHOMORE SHINE: Darren Smith Finds New Stride in Sophomore Season

A new track record and first career top-five finish highlight a strong start to Darren Smith’s sophomore season with the Super DIRTcar Series

Darren Smith started his sophomore season with the Super DIRTcar Series looking like a different driver.

After ending his rookie season with no top-10 finishes and no Fast Time Awards, he opened the 2023 season with his first career top-five and scored a new track record.

The 180-turnaround is a result of spending the off season mapping out where improvements were needed.

“This year, we really took time to make sure we had the right motor that we needed, our cars were put together meticulously,” Smith said. “There was a lot of preparation. I do a lot of studying, watching old races, people put GoPros up on YouTube. I’m working on getting a Go-Pro in my car so I can start watching myself. It was a lot of preparation and doing things the right way.”

His enhanced approach paid dividends out of the gate with Smith capturing his first career Billy Whittaker Cars and Trux Fast Time Award during the King of the Big Blocks event at Bridgeport Motorsports Park – the first points-paying matchup of the season.

“It’s a really cool feeling,” Smith said. “I’ve never had success like that with the Series because of how hard it is. It was pretty cool.”

The Binghamton, NY native carried that momentum into the Feature, leading the pack for 59 laps of the 75-lap Feature. He lost the lead to eventual winner Mat Williamson after struggling to navigate slower traffic – a situation he’d yet to face with the Series.

“I thought I had the car to win,” Smith said. “That’s how good I felt. It was just once I got into lapped traffic, it was kind of intimidating. Being Series guys that you have seen win Series races, now you’re coming up to lap them, it was a little intimidating. I’ve never been in that situation.”

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Darren Smith (#12) battles to fend off a charging Mat Williamson (#88) at Bridgeport Motorsports Park back on April 23. (D. Kriner)

Smith finished fifth, his first career top-five Series finish.

Even though the outcome of the race wasn’t quite what he wanted, the aftereffects of seeing his hard work pay off taught him an invaluable lesson.

“It kind of shows yourself that ‘Hey, you can run with these guys,’” Smith said.  “They put their shoes on the same way that you do. Why not you?”

With a full year ahead and the first Billy Whittaker Cars 200 Qualifier approaching on May 29 at Lebanon Valley Speedway, Smith plans on continuing with his new routine. Now that he’s found an approach that delivers elevated results, his next step is executing it consistently.

“My goal for the Series is a top 10 run every time we show up,” Smith said. “I want to be in the top 10, and then points will figure itself out.”

UP NEXT: The Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds are back in action Sunday, May 28 at Weedsport Speedway in Weedsport, NY for the $7,500-to-win Heroes Remembered 100. Then, they’ll venture to Lebanon Valley Speedway on Monday, May 29, boasting a $13,500 payday.

If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch every Super DIRTcar Series race live on DIRTVision – either at DIRTVision.com or by downloading the DIRTVision App.