Despite Damaged Car, Smith Drives to 15th-Place Finish at Talladega
TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 26, 2009) -- Driving a handicapped car for nearly the entire race, Regan Smith persevered and managed to pull off a 15th-place finish in Sunday's wild NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Talladega Superspeedway.
Smith's No. 78 National Day of Prayer Chevrolet Impala SS suffered front-end damage in the multicar wreck on Lap 8 of 188, which severely affected the car's aerodynamic package and breakaway speed.
Smith was forced to make a number of extra stops on pit road as the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing crew did its best to mend the injured racecar.
"Once we suffered damage to the nose of the car on that first wreck it was a battle from that point on," said Smith, who qualified sixth. "We just couldn't overcome the damage and produce the speed that you need at this track. We came into the race thinking we could contend for the win, but considering the problems we were faced with early, it wasn't a bad result to finish 15th in the National Day of Prayer Chevy."
Though Smith's car couldn't get up to speed, he was still able to maintain a top-20 position for the majority of the race.
"Regan persevered and hung tough all day," said Furniture Row crew chief Jay Guy. "It certainly wasn't the result we wanted. With the damage we sustained early you can't expect a whole lot -- just looking at the car it's pretty used up. I am really proud of everybody for sticking with it -- the pit crew did an excellent job."
It was the best finish of the season for Smith, who has qualified in each of the five races that Furniture Row Racing has entered in 2009. Smith's previous best season finish was 19th at Las Vegas (March 1).
"We're a little down right now, but I guess it could have been worse since we were real close a couple of times of getting knocked out of the race," offered Smith, who thought he won at Talladega in October, but was penalized by NASCAR for passing Tony Stewart below the out-of-bounds yellow line on the final lap.
"We really wanted to give Regan another shot at winning here," said Guy. "We felt we had the car that could do it. But the early damage spoiled any chance of victory."
Brad Keselowksi was the race winner in the wild finish at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. It appeared Carl Edwards was heading to the checkered flag first, but his car went airborne just before the finish line after making contact with Keselowski's car.
Finishing positions 2-5 went to: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Marco Ambrose and Scott Speed.
The next Sprint Cup race for the Denver, Colo.-based Furniture Row Racing team will be May 9 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.