Late-Race Hit Sends Smith to 33rd-Place Finish
September 6, 2011
Regan Smith was cruising along in 20th place in Tuesday's rain-delayed Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. But with 75 laps remaining in the 325-lap, 500-mile event, he became a victim on the high-speed 1.54-mile oval.
He got turned by the No. 5 car (Mark Martin) on Lap 250, spun and crashed hard into the inside retaining wall. Smith was not hurt in the incident, but his car suffered major damage and was driven to the garage for repairs. The costly accident relegated Smith to a 33rd-place finish.
"At this point I don't know why I got hit, but it shouldn't have happened," said a disappointed Smith. "I was riding along and feeling good about how our Furniture Row Chevrolet was improving and then I got smacked by the (No.) 5 car. There was not any reason for it and it did cost us a finish someplace in the teens. Very disappointing to say the least."
Smith started the race from the 26th position and quickly bolted to the front, running in ninth place by Lap 20.
"We didn't have a perfect car, but it was getting better as the race wore on," stated Smith. "Pete (Rondeau, crew chief) made some good adjustments and I felt we were in good position for the finishing laps. But we never got that opportunity, which is very frustrating."
Smith did return to action after spending 41 laps in the garage while his crew made repairs to the heavily damaged Furniture Row car.
The finish dropped Smith one position in the standings -- from 25th to 26th. Jamie McMurray passed him and is now 16 points ahead.
"Those finishes in the 30s really set you back," said Smith. "With the new point system, it's much harder to gain ground. We have had too many races where we became the victim because of someone else's problems or mistakes. We can't keep on being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
The next race for Smith and the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team is this coming Saturday night at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.