Strong Comeback Gives Smith, Furniture Row 19th-Place Finish in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS (March 1, 2009) -- Regan Smith battled back from an early pit-road speeding penalty to finish 19th in Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
It was the second race of the season for the Furniture Row Racing driver, who finished 21st two weeks ago in the Daytona 500 season opener. The Denver, Colo.-based team was scheduled to run 12 races this season, but has added a 13th Cup date, which will be its next event -- at Texas Motor Speedway on April 5.
Smith started the Las Vegas race 18th and was running in the top 15 when he was cited for speeding on pit road by NASCAR on Lap 54 of 427. He not only went a lap down due to the infraction, but was relegated to 36th place in track position.
"I really messed up and put us a lap down early," said Smith. "But we didn't quit. Jay (Guy, crew chief) did a really good job on the pit box by making great calls. And the over-the-wall guys also did their job with quick stops all day. A great all-around team effort."
The poor track position after the penalty didn't faze Smith. He patiently held his ground and picked his way through the field in his No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet Impala SS.
"Regan showed a lot of savvy today," said Guy. "It's basically his second season on the Cup circuit and he drove like a seasoned veteran."
Smith, the 2008 Rookie of the Year, said he was also pleased with the performance because of the lack of success he previously had on 1.5-mile tracks.
"I really struggled on the mile-and-a-half tracks last year, so that's another reason I am happy about today for Furniture Row and all of the guys," added Smith.
Regarding the start of the season and an average finish of 20th, Smith gave a quick and candid assessment.
"It's been a great start and I am happy with what we've accomplished," explained Smith. "But honestly, both of the races -- Daytona and here -- we were capable of better finishes. That is promising and I can't wait for our next race in Texas."
The Las Vegas Shelby 427 race winner was hometown favorite Kyle Busch. Rounding out the top five in order were: Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, David Reutimann and Bobby Labonte.
The 14 cautions during the race set a record for a Las Vegas Motor Speedway Cup event.