Riding a wave of success to close out the 2015 season, R.D. Smith is incredibly optimistic entering this weekend’s ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway.  The Burlington, North Carolina native won six of the last seven races at Ace Speedway to lock up the Altamahaw, North Carolina speedway’s Late Model track championship for 2015.

“We didn’t start out running for points [at Ace],” said Smith about his championship run. “We missed a few races running the CARS Tour. We started going over there and found something on the Hoosier package. We won six of the last seven races, and finished second in the other.”

Along with his success at Ace, Smith also posted several strong runs during his seven CARS Late Model Stock Tour starts. Smith collected three top-fives, with a best finish of second at Tri-County Motor Speedway, before a pair of mechanical failures dashed his hopes of chasing the series championship.

“We had some top threes in the CARS Tour,” Smith said, “But we had part failures back-to-back at Motor Mile and Orange County to take us out of points contention. So we refocused and focused on Ace. With the CARS switching over the Hoosier, we were excited, because we were learning the American Racer but we have a much better Hoosier package.”

Those strong runs also provide confidence for Smith entering the ValleyStar Credit Union 300. The strength of the CARS Tour fields on a weekly basis, featuring former Martinsville winners such as Tommy Lemons, Jr. and Jamey Caudill, has provided a measuring stick throughout the season for Late Model Stock teams.

“Some of those tracks on the CARS Tour, we hadn’t even been to,” Smith said. “We have a strong mix between the CARS Tour and the guys that have been running the weekly tracks. Week in and week out, the CARS Tour competition has been extremely high. It probably helps us prepare for the big races.”

With that success, Smith returns to Martinsville hoping to improve on his previous showings at the famous Virginia facility. Smith has made the 42-car field for the 200 lap feature each of the past two seasons, but believes he comes to Martinsville stronger than ever in 2015.

“Last year we had a really good car and had a flat tire,” Smith said.  “We’re way above where we were last year. We’re bringing a much better car, and we’re going to be a lot stronger.”

According to Smith, the largest factor in bringing home a strong finish will be avoiding the chaos and carnage that typically defines the $25,000-to-win race.

“We just have to stay out of trouble and have something to race at the end,” Smith said.  “That race has a very high attrition rate, and you have to be around at the end to win it. First you have to make the race, then you have to make it to lap 175. It’s a different race because it’s a very high attrition rate.”

“Most of your local tracks, you have three or four cars you have to beat,” Smith added.  “There, you have 30. Track position is going to be key, but I feel like we have a really good car.”

If he can get to the end of the race, Smith firmly believes he has a top-five car that can compete for the ultimate prize at the end of the event.

“I feel like we are taking a top-five car, and I don’t expect anything less,” Smith said. “I think we’ll be in contention. We’ve been in victory lane six out of ten times on Hoosiers [this year].”