Atlanta Race a Data-Collecting Mission for Smith, Furniture Row Racing
DENVER, Colo. (Sept. 3, 2009) -- When Furniture Row Racing made the decision to run a full-time 36-race schedule next season, one of the two races the team added to its 2009 part-time schedule was Sunday night's Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The other was the Oct. 11th race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., increasing the team's season schedule to 16 events.
The reason for the additions was that the 25-year-old Smith candidly stated that he hasn't yet acquired a comfort zone for either the 1.54-mile oval in Atlanta or the 2.0-mile oval in Southern California.
"I was very honest when I told the team that I've had my problems at both the Atlanta and California tracks and would like more seat time at each track before embarking on our full-time schedule next year," said Smith. "Those are important tracks since Atlanta and California are two of the first five tracks we'll race at next year. We'll need to do well at each place in order to get into the top 35 in points after the fifth race and gain an automatic qualifying spot."
Smith has raced six times at the super fast Atlanta Motor Speedway -- two each in the Cup, Nationwide and Truck series. He finished 38th and 30th in the two Cup races last year; had finishes of 21st (2006) and 23rd (2007) in two Nationwide races and claimed truck finishes of 29th (2005) and 18th (2007).
"Adding this weekend's race to the schedule shows the commitment of Furniture Row Racing and it is very much appreciated by the driver," offered Smith. "I know Jay Guy (crew chief) and all of the crew members are working hard building new cars."
Smith added, "As always the main goal is to qualify for Sunday's race and once we accomplish that objective we not only want to do well in the race but also want to gather as much data as possible that we'll be able to apply when we come back to Atlanta next spring."
The Atlanta race will be the 13th of the season for the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team. Smith has qualified his Chevy Impala SS in every event and has extended his career running at the finish streak to 53 races. He has never had a DNF (did not finish) since taking his first Cup ride at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in March 2007.
So far in the 2009 season, Smith has posted six top-22 finishes in 12 races with his best results of 12th at the July Daytona race and 15th at Talladega in April.