14-Car Wreck Ruins Smith's Day in Phoenix
February 27, 2011
Regan Smith's strong performance of 2011 was continuing in Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway. But on Lap 67 of 312, Smith's No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet was in the wrong place at the wrong time as it suffered major damage after being involved in a 14-car wreck on the backstretch of the one-mile oval.
The pileup resulted in NASCAR red flagging the race for nearly 15 minutes.
Smith, who qualified fifth as the fastest Chevrolet driver in Saturday's time trials, was easily running in the top 10 and top 15 prior to the accident.
"There's no reason to see these kinds of wrecks that early in a race," said Smith, who was credited with a 34th-place finish. "It's so disappointing because we had a car capable of finishing in the top 10. We were patient and feeling really good about our Furniture Row Chevrolet before the accident happened."
Smith was forced to drive his crippled Chevrolet to the garage where the No. 78 crew worked for approximately 50 minutes to make the necessary repairs to the radiator and front-end of the car.
When Smith returned to action he was actually posting fast lap times even though he was driving a damaged car.
"That only says what a strong Furniture Row Chevrolet we had in the beginning," noted Smith. "We were on a roll after Daytona Speedweeks, but we'll just look at today as a hiccup or detour. We'll go to Las Vegas with the same kind of focus and confidence that we had coming into Phoenix."
The 34th-place finish dropped Smith to 19th in the driver point standings.
The Phoenix race winner was Jeff Gordon. Rounding out the top-five in order were: Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman.
The next Cup race is Sunday (March 6) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.