Smith Feeling Buoyant About Return to Central New York Roots
August 8, 2012
There's nothing like coming home with a smile. And right now Furniture Row Racing driver Regan Smith is beaming as he heads to what he considers his home track -- Watkins Glen International -- for Sunday's second and final Sprint Cup road race of the season.
The 28-year-old Smith is a native of Cato, N.Y., located approximately 75 miles north of Watkins Glen and 25 miles west of Syracuse. He began his racing career as a 4 1/2-year-old, competing in a microd race car at the Syracuse Fairgrounds.
"I love coming back to Central New York," said Smith. "This is where it all began for me. We still have family and plenty of friends in the area. And knowing that we've had a couple of strong races recently will make the homecoming that much better."
The reason for Smith's extra bounce and wider smile as he returns to his Central New York roots is the way his No. 78 Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet performed the past two races under new crew chief Todd Berrier. Smith is coming off a ninth-place finish at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, his first top-10 of the season. The race prior to Pocono -- Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis -- Smith was closing in on the lead with 60 laps remaining when the front-end of his car got damaged.
"The way we performed at the past two races is the way we expected to perform coming into the 2012 season," said Smith. "Right now there's not a person on this Furniture Row team who does not believe that we can continue with strong performances for the 15 remaining races. We have the potential to run in the top-10, top-five and contend for wins. You need to believe it before you can do it, and we have nothing but believers at our Denver shop."
One reason for the recent success according to Smith is the smooth transition when Berrier took over the crew chief role.
"When Todd came on board so did our race engineer Cole Pearn," explained Smith. "I worked with Cole in the past and even raced against him in our earlier days. Cole's presence definitely helped in the transition. Todd and Cole are a great tandem and their intensity gets pushed on to others. I know it's only been a few weeks, but I feel like I have worked with Todd for five years."
Smith knows that Sunday's race will not be the easiest. His road-racing experience is limited and he has only competed three times in the Sprint Cup Series at Watkins Glen, scoring his best finish of 23rd last year.
"Being that Watkins Glen is my home track I really want to put on a good show," noted Smith. "It's a fast road course and I've been intently watching tapes of past races. I want to know every mark on the track that I need to hit and what gear I want to be in. We don't want our momentum to stall."