Smith banking on more heat in Michigan
June 13, 2012
The improving Furniture Row Racing team is looking for hotter results as the pre-summer stretch run continues this weekend at Michigan International Speedway, site of Sunday's Quicken Loans 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Though the single-car team based in Colorado's Mile High City has produced better performances recently, the finishes have not been acceptable to driver Regan Smith, who is currently in his fourth season driving the No. 78 Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet.
"There's been positive movement, but we're not quite where we want to be at this stage of the season," said Smith. "I thought we had a shot at a top-10 last week in Pocono, but settled for 16th. We were not happy with that result, but still felt progress was being made."
Smith has indeed seen the positive meter recently swing to his favor. In the past four races, the 28-year-old driver has claimed three top-20 finishes, three top-10 qualifying efforts and moved from 27th to 24th in the driver point standings. The one setback during this stretch was being collected in an early multicar wreck in Dover on Lap 9 of 400.
"Before the last four races, we had some issues and things weren't going in the right direction," explained Smith. "But since then we have found more speed and that obviously has made a big difference. This business is about speed, speed and more speed. Without it, you're a back-of-the-pack racer."
Smith and his Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet will go through another learning curve. Last week it was getting acclimated to the newly-paved Pocono Raceway. This week, it's the 2-mile Michigan oval, which has also been repaved.
"Back-to-back repaved tracks is kind of unique," noted Smith. "But we'll deal with it as will all the other teams. We're looking forward to Thursday's test session at Michigan."
Smith, as is the case with many of the Sprint Cup drivers, has a fondness for Michigan International Speedway and is hoping the new track will still have some of the old traits.
"I've always liked racing at Michigan -- it was a track where you could pass and feel you had plenty of room to make moves," said Smith. "Now that the track has been repaved, I am hoping some of the old characteristics will be the same, but we aren't going to know for sure until we start testing there.
"What I do know is that the track is going to be faster -- that's a given. How much faster is hard to tell. The weather will have a lot to say about what kind of speeds we'll produce over the weekend. We went through the same process last week in Pocono with its repaved track and I think we all did a good job adapting to the new conditions. I anticipate the same at MIS."
Smith has six career starts at Michigan. His best finish of 13th came last year in the August race.