Mid-Race Hit Spoils Smith's Solid Short Track Weekend at Richmond
September 11, 2010
RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 11, 2010) -- Regan Smith drove a damaged race car to a 25th-place finish in Saturday night's Air Guard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway.
Smith, who qualified 17, virtually ran in the top-15 for the first 50 laps of the 400-lap, 300-mile race. He continued the pace in the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet until he got tangled in a typical short track fender bender near the midpoint of the event.
Unfortunately for Smith, the damage was more severe than a few sheet metal dents. The front-end of the No. 78 machine took a good hit, including the all-important splitter.
"Once the splitter got wrecked we were in trouble -- it threw off the car's balance and the aerodynamic package," said No. 78 crew chief Pete Rondeau. "We needed more cautions so we could have fixed some of the problem. But the yellow flag didn't fly that much tonight -- I think we only had three cautions in the entire race which is unusual for a short track event."
Rondeau added, "We tested at the Milwaukee Mile last week and came into this race with the goal of improving our short track program and we did that. We had two solid practices on Friday and a respectable qualifying effort. Then we started the race strong, running in the mid teens until the first caution came out. The splitter issue did spoil what could've been a pretty good night of racing. But all-in-all we did make improvements and feel good about that."
Though he was not pleased with the result, Smith was upbeat about how the car performed.
"I am not happy with the finish, but I am happy with the weekend performance," stated Smith as he was leaving the .75-mile Richmond track. "The Furniture Row Chevy was really hooked up before the front-end damage. The car had grip, it had speed and it was just a lot of fun to drive. But once our car got hit it was never the same. We had a good weekend and I look forward to the same -- minus the damage -- in next week's race in New Hampshire (Sept. 19).
The race winner was Denny Hamlin. Rounding out the top-five in order were: Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano and Marcos Ambrose.
The race had three cautions for 28 laps and there were 14 lead changes among six drivers.