It had been a full month since he was last behind the wheel of race car, but Smrz was immediately up to speed in his return to the Jim Russell Championship Series. The talented American race pilot quickly adapted to the added horsepower on tap in 2009 edition of the series, turning faster times than the series test driver in the morning practice session. The left-leg amputee, the result of a freak trampoline accident in 2007, continued to be the driver that everyone was chasing in afternoon qualifying, eventually taking the pole position by nearly half a second.
When the opening race of the weekend doubleheader got underway, Smrz did not get the launch he desired, falling back to second place. The Idaho native remained glued to the rear wing of the leader throughout the opening stages of the race, showing the skills that led him to the inaugural series title in 2008 as he waited for the right opportunity to make his move. Midway through lap four, Smrz capitalized on an error by the first place driver, quickly passing for the lead. From that point forward, Smrz never looked back, establishing a multi-car advantage on his nearest pursuer, taking the victory by over 12 seconds.
Returning to the cockpit of his In Touch Physical Therapy/Jim Russell Championship-backed FJR-50 car one day later, Smrz continued to be a dominating force in his return to series competition. The 18 year-old had led morning practice by over a second and captured the pole position by a full second as well, proving to be unstoppable in Round Eight. Getting away cleanly when the green flag waved in the afternoon sun, Smrz led from start-to-finish, never coming under any challenge of note en route to a 20-second win.
“The new Jim Russell cars are fantastic, and when they upped the power this weekend, it made them even better," stated Smrz. “You can actually spin your tires on the exit of the corners now! I felt very comfortable in dealing with the new power in the cars. Conserving your tires for the weekend is key in the Jim Russell cars. The tires go away very quickly, and I think it is a valuable lesson that every driver should learn sooner rather than later. I will be doing Jim Russell for the remainder of the season, and can't wait for the race next month."
Disappointingly, Smrz has been forced to halt his race-winning BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National and championship-contending Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup campaigns due to funding issues, so he will return to Infineon Raceway on August 15-16 for Rounds Nine and Ten of the Jim Russell Championship Series.