Smith sees similarities between drivers, Bears

Chicagoland Speedway has drafted Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith to be grand marshal for the NASCAR Nextel Cup USG Sheetrock 400 on July 15.

"It's a great honor to be the grand marshal for this year's NASCAR event at Chicagoland Speedway," Smith said in a release. "I think our football team and NASCAR drivers have a common trait: We all like to play fast.

"I look forward to watching some of the best drivers in the world compete for the checkered flag. It will be an exciting afternoon."

Smith, who led the Bears to the Super Bowl last season, will direct the drivers with the famous phase, "Gentlemen, start your engines!"

The 2005 Associated Press Coach of the Year will then ride in the grand marshal car in front of the pace car, which leads the field of NASCAR drivers onto the track for the race.

"We are very excited to have Bears head coach Lovie Smith join us on race day as grand marshal of the USG Sheetrock 400," Matthew Alexander, president of Chicagoland Speedway, said in a release. "In only three short seasons, he's accomplished many great things both on and off the field and has established a fan base that truly appreciates what he has done for the team and the city of Chicago. Lovie is a fan-favorite throughout the Chicagoland area, so we know our fans will be thrilled to see him participate in the largest sporting event in the state of Illinois."

Smith, 49, has won more games over his first three seasons than any coach in franchise history. He owns a career record of 29-19 i(.604) in the regular season. He is 2-2 in the postseason.

In other events at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. for the NASCAR weekend, country music duo Montgomery Gentry will give a concert July 13 at the track's Miller Lite Oasis after the USG Fiberrock 100 USAC Silver Crown series race.

Montgomery Gentry's elements have been described as consisting of straightforward lyrics reflecting the realities of modern life combined with a gritty rock edge.

"We are very excited to have a great band like Montgomery Gentry be a part of this year's Miller Lite Rock N' Racing Concert," Alexander said. "Being able to host another concert in our Miller Lite Oasis provides a unique opportunity for our fans to come and enjoy some great music after an action-packed day, and experience everything our Expo Village has to offer. Montgomery Gentry's brand of music and on-stage energy is sure to add excitement to our USG Pole Day."

Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry, Country Music Association's 2000 "Duo of the Year," released "Some People Change" on Oct. 24, 2006.