Smith Keeping Pace in the Homestretch
September 28, 2011
Regan Smith said recently that the final 10 races of the season would be a good barometer to see how his Furniture Row Racing team stacks up against the 12 Chase teams vying for the Sprint Cup championship.
"The homestretch races will give us a good idea about how much we need to improve to be a bona fide contender for a Chase position in 2012," said Smith.
Two races into the Chase, Smith and the Denver, Colo.-based single-car team like the trend. With finishes of 17th and 10th in his No. 78 Chevrolet, Smith picked up 62 points, which is equal to or better than six of the 12 Chase drivers.
His 10th-place finish in Sunday's race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was the fifth top-10 of the season, which is another indicator of Furniture Row Racing's major improvement in 2011. Up until this season, neither Smith nor the Furniture Row Racing team had ever posted a top-10 result. The five top-10s include Smith's win at Darlington Raceway and a third-place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"When you talk about improvement the five top-10s are definitely a positive," explained Smith. "But when you talk about being a bona fide Chase contender those numbers need to improve along with avoiding results in the high 20s and 30s. You're going to have a few of those low finishes throughout the course of a 36-race schedule, but we had too many this year."
For the record, Smith's finishes after 28 Sprint Cup races include five between 1-10, nine between 11-19, six between 20-29 and eight between 30-39.
"The eight finishes in the 30s were not a result of poor performance," noted Smith. "The cause of the low results was due to either an accident, mechanical issue or fuel mileage."
Smith's next Sprint Cup stop is Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway.The last time he competed at Dover was the week following his May 7th victory in Darlington.
"We came to Dover back in May with a lot of smiles, but left with long faces," noted Smith, who finished 34th at the Monster Mile due to a broken track bar mount. "Based on how the race was playing out, we felt we had a legitimate shot at a top-10 before the mechanical problem. Hopefully we can avoid problems this weekend and secure another strong finish."
The paint scheme for Smith's Furniture Row race car in Dover will include pink highlights as part of Chevrolet's national dealer network fight against breast cancer.
"October is breast cancer awareness month and I am real proud of Furniture Row Racing and Chevrolet for their efforts to help combat the disease," offered Smith.