Hard Luck Smith Calm Before Talladega Showdown
April 13, 2011
Deep down Regan Smith knows that he has the car and the team to win Sunday's Aaron's 499 Sprint Cup race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. But the Furniture Row Racing driver is taking the low key approach after suffering one bad break after another in the first seven races of the season.
"I am not in any mood to predict, guess or whatever we do before a race," said Smith. "Since Daytona, it's been a rough time. I think our Furniture Row Chevrolet has been collected in accidents four times, had a blown engine plus a mechanical failure (brake rotor). We really haven't shown to anyone, including ourselves, what kind of potential we have because we haven't been able to run many incident-free races."
While Smith might be a little hard on himself, he and the Denver-based Furniture Row team have showcased new potential, including an outstanding performance in the previous superspeedway race -- the season opening Daytona 500.
Smith was leading the sport's biggest race with five laps remaining. But with three laps to go and running in third place, he got pushed into the wall. Despite the hit, he still managed to finish seventh.
Another indicator about how the team has improved is that Smith's qualifying average of 6.3 ranks No. 1 in the Sprint Cup Series.
"We just need to get a couple of good results and we'll be back in the groove," stated Smith. "But we have to stay away from trouble. A lot easier said than done, especially at Talladega."
Though Smith has had his share of ups and downs at the 2.66-mile Alabama track, his last visit there produced a 12th-place finish in November. And then there was that apparent victory in 2008 until NASCAR ruled that Smith passed Tony Stewart below the out-of-bounds yellow line as both drivers were heading to the checkered flag.
"We understand that so many things can happen at Talladega, but we're going into the race knowing that we can contend for the win, just as we did in the Daytona 500," explained Smith. "I am really proud of our superspeedway program and the power we get from our ECR (Earnhardt-Childress Racing) engines."
Smith, who seemed to be every racer's best friend at Daytona for his drafting success, says that finding the right partner will be key in Talladega.
"Kurt (Busch) and I clicked very well together in Daytona," noted Smith. "If we can do it again that would be great."
In the 150-mile qualifying race at Daytona, Smith finished second to Busch. Both drivers also partnered with success in the Daytona 500.