Smith Fights for 23rd-Place finish in Phoenix; Tightens Rookie Battle

AVONDALE, Ariz. (Nov. 10, 2008) – Regan Smith finished 23rd in Sunday’s Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, but the Dale Earnhardt Inc. driver was quick to say that his team’s finishing result was not reflective of the quality of his race car .
“I really think we could’ve finished in the top 15,” Smith said. “We got a lap down early and it’s just hard to make up those spots with these new cars. Our car was really good, though. We were turning lap times as fast as some of the leaders. It was a good run for us, and we needed it. I’m proud of the guys for giving me such a good car.”
Smith had managed to avoid the wrecks that led to the event’s 10 caution periods. However, the No. 01 DEI/Principal Financial Croup Chevrolet did get caught up in a multi-car accident as the field took the checker flag. Smith walked away from the accident unharmed but his car was destroyed.
 “That was a heck of a way to finish the race,” continued Smith. “Some guys were beating and banging on each other in front of me and they finally ended up causing a big mess. Luckily, no one was hurt.”
With his finish, Smith tightened the race for Raybestos Rookie of the Year. He now trails Sam Hornish Jr., 199 – 196, in 2008 rookie points as the series heads to Homestead, Florida for the season finale.