Martinsville: Regan Smith preview

A Call From his Mentor has Smith Pumped for Martinsville MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 28, 2007) -- A telephone call from Mark Martin following Sunday's Bristol race pumped new life into rookie driver Regan Smith, who finished 25th in his Nextel Cup...

A Call From his Mentor has Smith Pumped for Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 28, 2007) -- A telephone call from Mark Martin following Sunday's Bristol race pumped new life into rookie driver Regan Smith, who finished 25th in his Nextel Cup debut at the half-mile oval.

Though the 23-year-old U.S. Army driver accomplished his main mission of finishing the race, he was upset with himself about an early pit road mistake that might have cost the team a better result. He had trouble shaking the incident until he got a call from his mentor.

"One thing about Mark -- when he tells you something he doesn't do any sugarcoating," said Smith. "And when he said he was excited for me for finishing the race at Bristol and called it a big accomplishment, that really made me feel good. I told him about the pit road mistake and he told me to shake it off and not to let it get me down. After that call I had a little extra bounce in my step."

Smith, who admits that he sometimes over analyzes his performance after each race, feels a new surge of enthusiasm heading into this weekend's event -- the Goody's Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

"Going into Bristol there were plenty of distractions since it was my debut and I was driving the number one car in points," offered Smith. "Now that we got that race out of the way and did a decent job I feel more relaxed about this weekend. I feel we have the potential of having a pretty good performance. It's exciting to get right back into the Army Chevy."

"I think of our soldiers in this situation," added Smith. "You never quit or allow a setback to get in the way of completing the mission. That's exactly how I feel heading into Martinsville."

Regarding Martinsville, Smith will be driving a new U.S. Army Chevrolet Impala SS in the second straight race for NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow.

"We tested the Army Chevy last week at Greenville Pickens (S.C.) Speedway and we were pleased with the car," noted Smith. "Our goal is to have a top-20 performance and I know we can achieve that or maybe even better. We just need to stay out of trouble and avoid mistakes."

And before Smith heads to the half-mile flat track in Southern Virginia, he will make one more call to his mentor.

"I plan on calling Mark on Thursday to go over a few things about the race," said Smith. "Mark really has a knack for teaching. When he talks you listen -- there's nobody better to get advice from."

After Martinsville, Smith's next Cup race in the 01 Army Chevy will be at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, April 29. Martin will return to the Army car for the April 15 race at Texas Motor Speedway and the April 21 event in Phoenix.

-credit: gr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Regan Smith , Mark Martin