Devastation of Colorado fires puts racing issues in perspective
July 3, 2012
To see improving performances spoiled by an overload of bad luck has been discouraging for Regan Smith in recent Sprint Cup races. But at the same time the Furniture Row Racing driver just needs to look outside of his mountain home near Denver to get a crueler perspective of tough luck.
Before leaving for Kentucky last week, Smith said he could see and smell the smoke from the raging fires that have engulfed Colorado, where more than 300 homes have gone up in flames and more than 100,000 acres torched.
"I love this area and it tears your insides apart seeing the destruction that has taken place," said Smith, who moved to Colorado last year to be near the team's Denver race shop. "Our recent issues are minimal compared to the fire-stricken families.
"I want Colorado residents to know that our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been affected and that Furniture Row Racing is very proud to represent the great state of Colorado on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit. I also want to give a team shout out to the brave firefighters and safety personnel who risk their lives daily in their continuing efforts to control and extinguish the fires."
Though Smith's home has not been affected, the devastation of the Colorado fires will no doubt be on his mind in Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway. The 160-lap, 400-mile superspeedway event will mark the season's halfway mark in the 36-race schedule.
"We started the season in Daytona and we'll be looking at starting another new season in Daytona this weekend," stated Smith. "From the opening Daytona 500 where we had an accident, our season to date has not gone the way we had anticipated. We've had our share of problems, but on the other hand, it seemed that every time we had a strong performance going something would step up and bite us that was completely out of our control."
The last three Sprint Cup races have been a nightmare of sorts for Smith. He had a flat tire with fewer than 10 laps remaining in Michigan on June 17. The following week in Sonoma, Calif., he was involved in a final-lap multicar wreck. And it didn't get any better last Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway, where Smith's car slammed hard into the concrete wall after hitting a puddle of oil on the track, dumped by another car's blown engine.
Barring any mistakes, accidents or malfunctions, Smith knows that his No. 78 Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet will be competitive on the 2.5-mile superspeedway. He has proved that the team's superspeedway program is capable of running for the win. At this year's 150-mile qualifying race for the Daytona 500, Smith finished second.
"We've had some strong performances in Daytona," noted Smith. "It's the same old story -- you need to avoid the wrecks and be in the lead draft at the end. We have the potential of running up front, but avoiding wrecks is nothing but a crap shoot."
Smith's best finish at the famed 2.5-mile oval was seventh in the 2011 Daytona 500. He also had a 12th-place result in July 2009. At this year's Daytona 500, Smith ran a strong race until he got caught up in a multicar wreck that relegated him to a 24th-place finish.