Smith's Talladega Return will be in National Day of Prayer Car
TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 21, 2009) -- The mere mention of Talladega Superspeedway brings out an emotion for Regan Smith, who feels he won the last Sprint Cup race contested at the 2.66-mile oval.
Smith's return to the Alabama track for this weekend's Cup race will be in the No. 78 National Day of Prayer Chevrolet for Furniture Row Racing. This is the fourth straight year at the Talladega spring race that the Denver, Colo.-based Furniture Row company is donating space on the car to National Day of Prayer, an annual observance established by Congress and held on the first Thursday in May. (nationaldayofprayer.org)
"It's hard not to think about that last lap," said Smith, who led the field to the checkered flag in the October Talladega race, but saw victory taken away when NASCAR ruled that he passed Tony Stewart on the final lap below the out-of-bounds yellow line. The penalty relegated Smith to an 18th-place finish in his Dale Earnhardt Inc. entry.
"I was being blocked and it was either passing Stewart or crashing the field," explained Smith. "I felt I made the proper move and won the race."
Though it would have been his first career Cup win, Smith harbors no ill feelings towards Talladega. In fact, the 25-year-old driver said he enjoys Talladega's big track and looks forward to racing four wide.
"Talladega brings out all of the emotions," offered Smith, the 2008 Raybestos Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year. "I've always liked racing there -- it's 500 miles of excitement and mind games -- an incredible rush. It will be an honor to drive the No. 78 Chevy with the National Day of Prayer paint scheme."
Smith, who is in his first season with Furniture Row Racing, feels he can again contend for a win at Talladega.
"Furniture Row has a history of operating a strong superspeedway program," said Smith. "The team sat on the pole at last year's Talladega race. We also had a solid performance in this year's Daytona 500. So, right now I am feeling upbeat about this weekend. But first things first -- we're still a go-or-go-home team and need to qualify."
With Furniture Row Racing running a limited schedule in 2009, the Talladega race will be Smith’s fifth Cup event of the season. He has qualified in the previous four races he entered with a best starting position of ninth, which was at last week’s event in Phoenix.
“We’ve had some good runs this year,” noted Smith. “We were a top-15 car in Phoenix last week but had some issues on pit road. We also had solid runs in Las Vegas (19th) and Daytona (21st). This is a committed team and we eagerly look forward to each race that we enter.”