With Three "Big Brothers" Looking After Him, Smith Ready to Make Cup Debut
February 9, 2007
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Army News Service, Feb. 9, 2007) - If Regan Smith ever feels out of sorts as a rookie in the Nextel Cup garage he knows he has an experienced and friendly support group to seek advice from.
While the 22-year-old Smith is hoping the Daytona 500 will be his NASCAR Cup debut, his three Ginn Racing teammates and support group - Mark Martin, Sterling Marlin and Joe Nemechek have a total of 1,815 Cup starts.
"When you have Mark, Sterling and Joe as your teammates, it's like being the youngest sibling and having three big brothers looking after you," offered Smith. "And those three guys have plenty of knowledge. It is comforting to know that you can walk over to them and seek their expert advice. As I keep on saying, I've been presented with a great opportunity by Ginn Racing and I'm going to listen well and take advantage of the situation."
"Regan and I are on the same page," said Martin. "He's eager and wants to learn. But at the same time, he knows that patience is vital in enjoying future success. I am really looking forward to being his Army teammate and helping launch his career. This is an exciting time for the both of us."
Attempting to qualify for the Daytona 500 (Feb. 18) is not just about gaining experience for Smith, a native of Cato, N.Y.
"We're not going to Daytona to just ride around - way too much money and time have been spent on this deal," said Smith, who will pilot the No. 39 Ginn Racing Chevrolet. "This is the real deal and that's how we're approaching it."
The Daytona Cup ride is like a bonus for Smith, who was tabbed to co-drive the No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet with Martin during the 2007 season. Smith's first Cup race was initially scheduled to be the fifth event of the season at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
"The Daytona 500 is going to be tough to qualify for, but until somebody tells me otherwise, that is going to be my first Cup race," Smith noted. "We had a pretty good test session in Daytona last month and feel we have the machine to get us into the big show."
"But there are so many variables in both the qualifying laps and the qualifying races," Smith added. "If the wind changes direction during your qualifying lap that could make the difference of qualifying and not qualifying. It's going to be exciting - though I am focused on the mission, I must admit I am also in awe about being entered in my first Daytona 500."
Smith will also attempt to qualify for the NASCAR Busch Series race at Daytona on Feb. 17, driving the No. 04 Ginn Racing Chevy. He will have the same crew chief - Dough Randolph - for both the Cup and Busch races.