Accident Spoils Regan Smith's Nextel Cup Homecoming
August 13, 2007
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Army News Service, Aug. 13, 2007) - Regan Smith was an early victim in Sunday's Nextel Cup 'wreckfest' at Watkins Glen International. The U.S. Army driver, who grew up near the historic road course, was involved in an accident on Lap 21 of 90, which resulted in a 37th place finish.
"I was in the wrong place at the wrong time," said Mr. Smith, referring to the incident that put him out of contention.
The No. 83 car of Brian Vickers spun in front of the Army Chevrolet on the 2.45-mile circuit and it appeared for an instant that Mr. Smith was going to clear Mr. Vickers. But racing luck wasn't with Mr. Smith. His car took a hard hit, suffering major suspension damage to the right front of the 01 machine.
Mr. Smith drove the car to the garage where the Army crew spent 20 minutes repairing the wounded 01 Chevy. When Mr. Smith returned to the track he was 10 laps down.
"That pretty much spoiled our day," said Mr. Smith, who grew up in Cato, N.Y., 75 miles north of Watkins Glen. "The goal before the race was to stay out of trouble and be there at the end. I thought we had a car that was ready for a top-15 or better finish. It's really disappointing to be taken out that early in a race. I thought I had Mr. Vickers cleared, it was a matter of inches."
The result was frustrating for Mr. Smith, who not only made his first Cup start at his home track, but also his first Cup start for Dale Earnhardt Inc.
"I had a lot of family, friends and fans here and wanted to give them a good show," offered the 23-year-old, whose popularity in upstate New York was evident with long lines during a pre-race autograph session at the U.S. Army Mobile Interactive Unit. "And equally important, I wanted to give the folks at DEI a strong performance. In a time like this I think of our Soldiers, who never give up and always come back stronger."
For the record, there were eight cautions for 20 laps and one red flag for 26 minutes during the 90-lap race.
In Nextel Cup owner points, the 01 team dropped from 10th to 11th.
The next race for the U.S. Army team will be Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, where Mark Martin is slated to drive the 01 Chevy.