Smith's Finishing Streak Closing in on 50
LOUDON, N.H. (June 24, 2009) -- There's a common denominator in Regan Smith's brief career in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series -- the 25-year-old driver has finished every race he has entered.
All 49 of them to be exact.
No active NASCAR Sprint Cup driver started a career chalking up as many races without a DNF (did not finish) as Smith, driver of the Furniture Row Chevy Impala SS.
Smith is looking to make it 50 straight races without a DNF at this weekend's Cup race -- LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
"It's not just about finishing the race, the main goal is to finish with a respectable result," offered Smith, who has produced five top-21 finishes in 2009 with the part-time Furniture Row Racing team. "I am realistic to know that there will be a first DNF for me. But it would be nice to say it didn't happen in your first 50 races."
Smith's first career Cup start was on March 25, 2007 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. He competed in seven races in 2007, 34 in 2008 and eight so far in 2009. His last race was two weeks ago at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
"We can't jump ahead, the first priority is to qualify for the New Hampshire race," noted Smith, the 2008 Sprint Cup Raybestos Rookie of the Year.
Furniture Row crew chief Jay Guy feels that Smith took a few lessons from Mark Martin when the two drivers were teammates in 2007 at Ginn Racing.
"Regan's driving style reminds me a lot of Mark (Martin)," said Guy from the team's shop in Denver, Colo. "I guess if you're going to emulate a driver there's no one better than Mark. As Mark does, Regan races smart and races clean. He drives about 95 percent of his ability for 95 percent of the race. And when it's time to start racing people, he pushes harder and reaches 100 percent of his ability. Regan is just smart about how he races and about how he takes care of his equipment."
While the attention might be on his streak, Smith is more excited about racing at New Hampshire's "Magic Mile" (1.058-mile oval). He will drive the same Furniture Row Racing Chevy that he competed in earlier in the year at Phoenix, where he qualified ninth and ran in the top-15 until a late race pit road miscue relegated him to a 28th-place finish.
"We had a good car in Phoenix and ran strong there," said Smith. "What's also encouraging is that we had a productive test session last week in Colorado at the one-mile Pikes Peak International Raceway. Though we're a part-time team, we definitely have the potential of posting a strong finish in New Hampshire."
After New Hampshire, the next race for Smith and the Furniture Row Racing team will be the following week at Daytona International Speedway (July 4).