Smith Returning to Racing Roots
August 10, 2011
Regan Smith, who has pulled off four eye-catching finishes in four of NASCAR's biggest races this season, is looking to claim another solid result as he returns to his central New York roots for Sunday's Sprint Cup road race at Watkins Glen International.
Smith's motorsports career started to take shape when he was a 4-year-old in Cato, N.Y., 75 miles north of Watkins Glen and 25 miles west of Syracuse. He won divisional, regional and state championships in a quarter-midget type of car (microd) in the Syracuse area and throughout central New York.
His rise to NASCAR's top-tier division had some bumps along the way, but perseverance paid off for the 27-year-old Smith, who scored his first career NASCAR victory back in May in the historic Southern 500 race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
Smith, who drives the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet, also scored top-10 finishes this season in the Daytona 500 (7th), Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte (8th) and the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis (3rd).
"We've definitely picked up our performance this season," said Smith about his Denver, Colo.-based Furniture Row Racing team. "We also let some strong finishes slip away. But overall it's been an exciting and fun season. We've reached a new level of competition this year and feel that we're close to another level. Achieving those results in the big races has been pretty special."
Smith would like nothing better than to pull off another stunning result Sunday in front of many of his hometown friends and family who will be attending the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen.
"Watkins Glen is my home track," stated Smith. "I have a lot of family and friends coming to the race and you always want to put on a good performance for them. I am really looking forward to spending some time in central New York this week. I haven't had a lot of experience on road courses but we are getting better."
Sunday's event will be only the third for Smith at Watkins Glen International and his sixth career Sprint Cup road race. His best finish on a road circuit came in June when he posted a 16th-place result at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Smith did have a shot at a top-15 finish last year at the Watkins Glen race but with five laps remaining his day ended with a mechanical failure to the car's track bar mount.
"I enjoy the road races and felt we made progress as a team in Sonoma this year," Smith noted. "We need to stay out of trouble and avoid mechanical issues. If we can do that, I am confident that we can pull off a good finish on Sunday."