Broken Part Ruins Smith's Late-Race Charge at Dover
May 15, 2011
Persistent rain at Dover International Speedway forced NASCAR officials to cancel Saturday's Sprint Cup qualifying session. The 43-car starting field for Sunday's FexEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks was set according to the fastest speeds from Friday's practice sessions.
As he completed a strong green flag run on the Monster Mile, which was followed by a solid pit stop, Smith radioed his crew during a caution (Lap 334 of 400) to say that something was seriously wrong with his Furniture Row Chevrolet. He was then instructed by crew chief Pete Rondeau to bring the car to the garage where the broken right-side mount was diagnosed.
Though Smith returned to action after the problem was eventually repaired, he was a number of laps down. He was credited with a 34th-place finish in the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks.
"What a difference a week makes," said a disappointed Smith, who captured his first NASCAR win in Darlington, S.C. last week. "The frustrating thing is that our Furniture Row Chevrolet was coming to life just before the track bar mount broke. Our car really picked up steam during the second half of the green flag run before that caution came out. We were definitely in position to make a late-race charge and get a nice finish out of this race."
Smith started the race 11th and ran in the top 10 for nearly the first 100 laps. But then his car went through a handling issue and dropped back to 20th in track position. It appeared he was going to get lapped as the race was approaching the 300-lap mark.
But instead of getting lapped, Smith's car kicked into another gear on the all-concrete surface. At the time of the track bar incident, he was running in 16th place and moving forward.
"I could see the lead car behind me and then all of a sudden the Furniture Row Chevy took off," explained Smith. "At that point of the race we were running similar lap times as the leaders and managed to gain four positions (from 20th to 16th) in a short period of time. The potential for a top-10 finish was there, but we let it slip away due to the breakage."
Smith added, "It hurts because we had a good car and wanted to continue the momentum from last week's win in Darlington. But we know we had a fast car today and we will continue to have fast cars. We'll bounce back, and I am very confident about that. This is a good race team."
The next event for Smith and the Denver, Colo.-based team will be Saturday night's (May 21) Sprint All Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It will be Smith's first career appearance in the prestigious event which will pay $1 million to the winner.
"I can't wait for the Sprint All Star Race, that's an event I've always wanted to be part of," stated Smith, who earned the All Star berth as a result of his Darlington victory.
The next Cup points race will be the May 29th Coca-Cola 600 also at Charlotte Motor Speedway.