Smith Still Feels Like an Indy Rookie
INDIANAPOLIS (July 22, 2009) -- The record will show that Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard will be Regan Smith's second appearance in the famed event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Though the data is accurate, the 25-year-old driver for the part-time Furniture Row Racing team said he still feels like a rookie when it comes to Indy's summer classic.
"Considering what happened in both qualifying and the race last year, I really didn't learn a whole lot about the Indy track," said Smith, the 2008 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year.
While driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2008, Smith crashed his car during Indy qualifying and was relegated to the rear of the field for the 160-lap, 400-mile race. And due to the well-documented tire issue that plagued the race with competition cautions approximately every 10 laps, Smith said he really didn't gain that much experience even though he finished 31st.
"I continue to feel like a rookie when it comes to Indy," offered Smith, who has never had a DNF (did not finish) in 51 career Cup starts. "The enthusiasm and excitement of racing at this world famous track is just as high as it was last year. The only thing that might take a little edge off the excitement is that we're one of the go-or-go-home cars and pre-qualifying does take a nerve-wracking toll."
Smith and his No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet Impala SS have qualified in the 10 previous Cup events they have entered.
The race results for the single-car team out of Denver, Colo. have been more than respectable in the 10 Cup events. Smith is coming off the team's best effort of the year with a 12th-place finish in Daytona three weeks ago. He has posted six top-22 finishes, which also includes a 19th-place result in Las Vegas.
"Our finishes haven't been that bad, but we know they could have been better," noted Smith. "We feel that we can bring home another strong finish at Indy. With our Hendrick-powered Furniture Row Chevy, I am confident about this weekend. We have a good crew, led by our crew chief Jay Guy. We're all upbeat and can't wait to get to Indy."
At this juncture in the season, the Furniture Row Racing team has upped its schedule to 16 races, four more than the original 12 that it had planned for 2009. The new addition to the schedule is the team's next race following Indy -- Aug. 22 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
"Hopefully, we'll be able to add more races, but nothing is confirmed at this time," said Joe Garone, general manager of Furniture Row Racing.
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