Smith, Furniture Row Racing Anxious About Returning to Action
LAS VEGAS (Feb. 24, 2009) -- Being a non-participant is never easy for a racer, and it wasn't any different for Regan Smith, who watched Sunday's Auto Club 500 Sprint Cup event on television from his home in Mooresville, N.C.
"It was hard to watch," said Smith of the Fontana, Calif. race. "When it's Sunday you want to be in a race car, competing against your peers. It was even more difficult to watch because of how well we ran in the Daytona 500. I wanted to be there mixing it up with everyone else."
The reason Smith missed the second Cup race of the season is that the Denver, Colo.-based team is slated to run a limited schedule in 2009 due to the current economic climate.
But this weekend is expected to be different for Smith, the 2008 Rookie of the Year. He is planning to have a better view of Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He and his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team return to action for the Shelby 427 event at the 1.5-mile oval, located on North Las Vegas Blvd.
Smith, who has competed in 42 career Cup races, said he is not looking past Friday's qualifying session. "When you're a go-or-go-homer, you don't look too far into the future," said Smith. "The first priority is to get the Furniture Row Chevy Impala SS into Sunday's race. Though the pressure to qualify is nerve wracking, it sure beats being a couch potato and watching the race on television."
Led by general manager Joe Garone and crew chief Jay Guy, the Furniture Row team is feeling upbeat after a respectable 21st-place performance two weeks ago in the Daytona 500. It was the first race with Smith as the team's driver.
"Everyone on the team felt good about how it all came together at Daytona," said Garone. "We had some issues early, but we worked through them and received good input from Regan. So far, it's been a short learning curve and that's why we're all excited to get back on track."
Smith concurs about the comfort level he enjoys with his new team.
"I had a good time in Daytona and felt really comfortable in the new surroundings," said the 25-year-old Smith. "Hopefully we can put it all together again in Las Vegas and come away with another solid team effort. We want to make the most out of every race we enter."
Smith has driven in five career NASCAR races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway -- one in the Cup Series, three in the Nationwide Series and one in the Camping World Truck Series. His lone Las Vegas Cup start was last year -- he started 28th and finished 34th while driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc.