Smith Coming Home; New York Native to Drive 01 Army Chevy in Watkins Glen WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Aug. 7, 2007) -- It will be a homecoming of sorts for Regan Smith at this weekend's NASCAR Nextel Cup event at Watkins Glen International. The ...
Smith Coming Home; New York Native to Drive 01 Army Chevy in Watkins Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Aug. 7, 2007) -- It will be a homecoming of sorts for Regan Smith at this weekend's NASCAR Nextel Cup event at Watkins Glen International. The 23-year-old driver will not only compete near the area where he grew up, but he will also rejoin his teammates on the No. 01 U.S. Army team.
Smith, who was raised in Cato, N.Y., approximately 75 miles north from the Watkins Glen road course, will drive the 01 Chevrolet in Sunday's race. It will be his first Cup event under the Dale Earnhardt, Inc. racing banner.
It will also be a New York, New York tandem for the 01 team. Smith's crew chief -- Ryan Pemberton -- is also a New York native. His hometown is Saratoga Springs, located 225 miles east of Watkins Glen.
"So many things have happened in a short period of time, but the bottom line is that I am thrilled to be driving the Army Chevy for the first time at my home track," said Smith. "Growing up in upstate New York and being a huge race fan, I've always considered Watkins Glen a historic landmark. It's a special feeling to go back home to compete in front of family and friends."
This will be the sixth career Cup start for Smith, who has shared the 01 Army ride with Mark Martin this season. Smith's last Cup start was July 1 at New Hampshire.
"Driving for the 01 team has been a great experience," said Smith. "It's a talented team and I have all the confidence in them when I get behind the wheel. We've learned a lot about each other in the previous five races. I am confident that we can put together a solid performance this weekend."
Smith was also behind the wheel of the Army car at the only other Cup road race of the season -- June 24 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. He started 26th and finished 30th.
"Regan did everything we asked of him in Sonoma," said Pemberton. "We just didn't do our job in getting the car set up properly early in the race. But once we got the car hooked up, we were better. Hopefully the second-half-of-the-race data from Sonoma will transfer for Sunday's race at the Glen."
Though he has run in only five Cup races this season, Smith is getting familiar with the Car of Tomorrow. Four of the five races he competed in were with the COT. Sunday's race will make it five out of six. The only race he drove that wasn't a COT event was in April at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
"I think Mark (Martin) will agree with me when I say that we've come a long way with our COT program," said Smith. "At first, the COT was a handful and we were all going through a learning curve. I think we've graduated to another COT level. I am really pumped about driving the soldiers' car this weekend."
In February's Mexico Busch road race, Smith was running fifth heading into the final lap. But a brake issue sent him to the middle of the pack.
"I like road racing and can't wait to get to the Glen," offered Smith. "I continue to have a lot of positive vibes about this weekend."