News & Media

Physically sore Smith thankful for safety advances

October 29, 2011, Mark Aumann,

MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Regan Smith admitted he was still sore Saturday morning after his huge hit at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend.

"But in the grand scheme of things, it's nothing compared to what it could have been," Smith said. "It was the first time I've ever left a race track after crashing and said, 'It was a good day.' You kind of have a different perspective of a wreck after that one."

"It was the first time I've ever left a race track after crashing and said, 'It was a good day.' "


Smith was pushing Casey Mears at the bottom of the track when the right-rear corner of his No. 78 Chevrolet was clipped by Mark Martin, sending Smith's car slamming almost head-on into the outside wall.

"Normally on a wreck, I don't close my eyes and try to steer around it, and do whatever I can to avoid damage," Smith said. "That one there, it was pretty much 'close your eyes and hold on.' "

The angle at which Smith's car hit the barrier was eerily similar to the crash that killed Dale Earnhardt at Daytona in 2001. But 10 years of safety initiatives -- installing of SAFER barriers, head and neck devices for drivers, and cars with improved seats -- seemed to make all the difference last Sunday.

* Video: Smith slams into SAFER barrier at 'Dega

After seeing the replay of his crash, Smith considered himself fortunate to walk away without serious injury.

"The biggest thing I saw was the SAFER barrier collapsing as much as it did," Smith said. "Which was bad for me that I was in a situation where it had to collapse as much as it did, but also good, because it took away so much of the impact. And you could almost see it rippling through the [barrier] like waves, which I had never seen before.

"But it shows how much of the impact it did take away from the wreck. It was obviously a huge hit. I was full-throttle when I hit the wall, basically. I didn't have time to do anything. That stuff did all that it was designed to do. I was lucky from that standpoint."