Smith Comes Up a Few Ticks Short in Atlanta Qualifying
September 5, 2009
HAMPTON, Ga. (Sept. 5, 2009) -- They knew it was going to be a challenge.
Regan Smith and the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Team failed to qualify for Sunday night's Pep Boys Auto 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was the first time in 13 races this season that the part-time, single-car team out of Denver, Colo. did not qualify for the main event.
Smith's No. 78 Chevy Impala SS covered the 1.54-mile oval in 31.046 seconds at 178.574 miles per hour. Max Papis, who was the last go-or-go-home driver to qualify on time, recorded a 30.885-second lap.
"We know this was going to be difficult, but at the same time it doesn't ease the disappointment," said Smith. "We had a perfect qualifying streak going, but just couldn't pull off enough speed today to make it 13 in a row. The car got a little sideways coming out of turn four and that probably made the difference of not qualifying. Our main goal for this race was to acquire as much data as possible about this track to better prepare us for our full-time schedule next year. We didn't get all the data we wanted, but we did have two practices and we're not going away empty handed."
Joe Garone, general manager of Furniture Row Racing stated, "We're going to look at our options next week and will consider adding another race to our schedule at a track that is similar to Atlanta's. It's all about getting ready for next year. Since Atlanta is one of the early venues of the season we want to make sure that we'll have a good notebook when it's time to race there."
The good news for the Furniture Row team is that they won't have to wait long before its next race. The team will be at Richmond International Raceway for Saturday night's (Sept. 12) Cup event.
The Atlanta pole winner was Martin Truex Jr. (184.149 mph). Rounding out the top five in order were: Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch.