By Kelly Crandall (DOVER, Del.) – Repetition in racing can breed success.
Years of laps around a track create confidence, in turn building a comfort. Continuous communication translates into action. The right group of people put together for a common cause and with the right determination goes a long way, too. Nationwide Series point lead @ReganSmith sees all of that at JR Motorsports, the company who has led the points all year either with himself or rookie teammate @ChaseElliott.
“It’s been good. Every time you go to the shop it’s something new, it’s something exciting. We’re learning, we’re continuing to progress the cars and find out new stuff. I think the atmosphere is there is more to be done still and more work to be done still and you see that resonate throughout the whole shop when you go through there,” Smith said on Friday at Dover International Speedway.
Even with four wins already on the season, three between full-time drivers Smith and Elliott, along with the part-time third car which was taken to victory lane in Richmond by @KevinHarvick, the company continues to chip away. The desire to win a driver championship this year – they came close with Brad @Keselowski back in 2008 and 2009 – pushes the day-to-day operations through wind tunnel testing to getting on track at places like Virginia International Raceway.
“The work ethic and the caliber of people throughout the whole shop is really at a level that’s top notch and has been impressive to watch grow. I don’t think anybody’s really content with where we’re at, we want to continue to get better, we want to continue to improve on the cars,” Smith continued.
“For example Charlotte last week, we got back from Charlotte and everybody was kind of mad and trying to figure what to do better and how to make sure that we have three cars that are 1-2-3 next time we go back there.”
Then there’s Smith, a veteran not only of the Nationwide Series but NASCAR. From Sprint Cup now down to his current home, the 30-year-old is still here, still around and looking for his place. It’s more than just a break through, but a championship crowning. A redemption story from 2013 to effectively put to rest what haunts the No. 7 team and practice what they’ve been preach about lessons of the past.
“I don’t think there’s anymore pressure than last year, there’s always pressure. That’s what we do, we want to win, we want to be up front, we want to win championships as drivers, that’s the same for all of us. So the pressure is there whether it’s from the outside or within,” Smith said.
“I don’t think what happened last year changes that for me, all that does is make me a little bit more experienced and knowledgeable about how to go through the season as it gets down to crunch time and as the points start to become a little more pressure packed when we get down to 10, seven races to go, somewhere in that ballpark. That’s when it’s really kind of taking shape and you can see what you have to deal with”
In this same spot one year ago, Smith began to extend what would become a 58 point lead on his competition. Earning his second and final win of the season at Michigan however, signaled the beginning of the end. The end of a points lead five weeks later and the end of championship contention. Sliding into the final few weeks third in points and an afterthought.
This year, the same strong start is again there. The only driver to have finished in the top-10 in each of the 11 races thus far to compliment the quick win. Not far behind him however, have been teammate Chase Elliott who has two wins and @Elliott_Sadler, who came out victorious in Talladega.
Smith, while early, is focused on the future, as well as his competition.
“Up until this point it seems all three cars, myself, Chase and Elliott (Sadler) have had very comparable seasons. One week it’s one guy the next week it’s the other guy and unfortunately it’s one of these things that could come down to bad luck when it’s all said and done,” he said. “So you have to try and minimize that and do the right things there.”
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