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Smith setting standard in American Sedan with Runoffs approaching
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA (August 5, 2016) – Phillip Smith joined Ron Sutton Race Technology in 2015 and since then the SCCA American Sedan competitor has been a dominant force across the country. The Manhattan business executive has driven his blue third gen 1991 Chevrolet Camaro to five poles, six wins, and to a podium in the 2015 Runoffs at Daytona.
His 2016 wins have come at some of the highest profile venues, including Mid Ohio Sports Car Course which will host the 2016 Runoffs in late September.
That victory came in a national majors event with 11 cars competing in the Sunday event. Smith's entire season has been majors and he has not finished lower than fourth in his eight starts across four weekends.
"We've had a really good year. We've had a win in all four weekends we've run this year," Smith said. "I feel really good about the progress. We've evolved the car from the tuning standpoint. We are trying to control lateral roll stiffness."
Most of Smith's wins have come on high speed tracks such as Watkins Glen and Road America with long straightaways and fast corners. To succeed at the tight Mid Ohio course was a testament to the growth of Smith's performance since joining up with RSRT. Smith only qualified fourth quickest for the Sunday race under varied weather conditions, but was able to win the 16 lap event by over seven seconds.
"The weekend was plagued by variable weather conditions. The sophistication to work in both the dry and wet gave us flexibility," Smith said. "There is still something left in the lower speed corners where the car wants to roll more. The Mid Ohio race was a bigger race with a lot of national championship contenders there. All of the Runoff contenders were there."
The victory gives Smith a strong outlook heading into the Runoffs, but his other victories have also been impressive. His season began in March at Road Atlanta, where he took the pole by nearly two seconds for the Saturday race. He proceeded to win the 15 lap event on the fast track where Phillip described the handling of his car as "amazing". Despite being the fastest qualifier again on Sunday, he had a mix up with a faster GT2 car and was credited with fourth place in class.
Smith's season continued in May at the Circuit of St. Louis in the infield of Gateway International Raceway. The high speed track again suited Smith's car and driving style as he sat on the Saturday pole and described a feeling of barely having to lift in the oval corners. A transmission failure knocked him out of Saturday's race before he went on to win the Sunday event.
Following his Mid-Ohio win, Smith traveled back to his home track Watkins Glen International Raceway where he won in 2015. He set the pole by a 1.4 second margin and followed that up with the Saturday win. Sunday's race saw him set the fast time again by over one second, but he ultimately finished third in class in the competitive race that had a 12 car turnout for the American Sedan class.
Smith ranks third nationally out of 50 entrants in American Sedan with the 2016 National Championship Runoffs September 19-25 at Mid Ohio Sportscar Course left to run. The Runoffs will utilize the "Pro Course" with currently 18 entries set to battle on the 2.258 mile track.
"I've dreamt of winning a national championship since I was a kid," Smith said. "There's about five of us with a real good shot and the Mustang (national points leader Brian Himes) might have a slight advantage. It would be incredible to win!"
The interest in Ron Sutton Race Technology in the Midwest sports car scene has been enhanced greatly by Smith's success. RSRT's unique setup still surprises some onlookers.
"You have to commit and go all in on the program for it to work," Smith said. "The thought process is different than what a lot of people are running. There has been a lot of interest but people aren't willing to do the work. I don't understand it!"
Philip Smith would like to thank Ron Sutton Race Technology, Hoosier Tire, and Phil Harper at Ilmor Engineering for their support in 2016.
For more information on Ron Sutton Race Technology, visit them online at http://www.ronsuttonracetechnology.com/
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