Smith Avoids Wrecks, Finishes 18th in Richmond
September 11, 2011
In an accident and caution-marred race, Regan Smith brought home an 18th-place finish in Saturday night's Wonderful Pistachios 400 Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway.
Smith, who started the 400-lap event from the 23rd position, was nearly one of the victims in the race, which saw 15 cautions for 85 laps.
While running in the mid 20s on Lap 172, Smith's No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet did a smoky 360-degree spin on the .75-mile oval as he was attempting to avoid Paul Menard's spinning car. But a skillful driving job by Smith, kept the car from hitting the concrete wall and incurring major damage. The only repair needed was a set of four fresh tires.
"Our day could have ended right there," said Smith. "The way the race started (five multicar accidents before Lap 55), I didn't know if anyone was going to finish with their car in one piece. It was crazy, especially in the beginning."
Smith came back from the Lap 172 spin and fought his way through the pack of cars. He ran as high as 12th and when the 15th and final caution came out on Lap 384, he was positioned in 14th place. But when the race was restarted with 12 laps remaining he got trapped in traffic and couldn't break loose before the checkered flag waved.
"The ending was disappointing, losing four positions," stated Smith. "But in a sprint to the finish sometimes you just get bottled up and the last thing you want is to get wrecked at the end and spoil your entire day of racing. Our goal was a top-10 as it is every week. Overall our Furniture Row Racing team had a pretty good night of racing."
The result was Smith's third straight top-20 performance on a short track (less than one mile). He finished 17th in the April race at Richmond and 18th two weeks ago at the half-mile Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
"We're making progress on the short tracks and our recent performances have been better than what the final results have shown," noted Smith.
The race winner was Kevin Harvick. Rounding out the top-five in order were Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, David Ragan and Kurt Busch.
The next Sprint Cup race is Sunday, Sept. 18 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.