California is Another Data Collection Race for Smith, Furniture Row Racing

DENVER, Colo. (Oct. 7, 2009) -- The preparation to be one of the top 35 teams in points following the fifth race in 2010 continues for driver Regan Smith and Furniture Row Racing this weekend in Fontana, Calif., site of the Pepsi 500 Sprint Cup event at Auto Club Speedway.  

Furniture Row Racing announced in August that it will run a full Sprint Cup schedule in 2010, compared to a part-time slate of 20 races this season.

Teams, which are secured in the top 35 in points following the fifth race (Bristol) next year, will have the luxury of gaining an automatic qualifying berth, something the young Furniture Row organization has never experienced. (Note: the qualifying points structure for the first five races of 2010 are based on the final 2009 owner points.)   

"With California being the second race in 2010, we added it to our schedule recently so we can acquire data for our important return trip in February," said team general manager Joe Garone. "We wanted to make sure that we'll have a good data book for each of the first five races next year. Our goal is to be in the top 35 and not have to worry about qualifying for the main event."

Garone added, "Unless you're one of the teams that need to qualify on time every week, it's really hard to fathom the pressure the driver, crew chief, crew members and management face on a weekly basis."

Furniture Row's original 2009 schedule included two of the first five races of the season -- Daytona and Las Vegas. The organization added the other three sites -- Atlanta, Bristol and Fontana -- once the decision was made to run the 36-race Cup schedule next season.

Crew chief Jay Guy said that if the team is fortunate to qualify this weekend it will be in a test mode, trying different combinations to its No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet.

"When we come back here in a few months, we want to make sure that we'll have a good handle on our Chevy Impala SS," said Guy. "Obviously we want to achieve a good result Sunday, but our main goal is to be ready for the first race at the California track in 2010."

Smith, who turned 26 two weeks ago, is anxious about returning to competition.

"We might have to sacrifice something this weekend in order to keep the big picture in focus," noted Smith. "It's going to take some discipline, but it's imperative that we follow our game plan and keep the main objective in mind. This is getting tiring-- going into each race not knowing if you're going to qualify or not. The pressure wears on you all week -- it's not a healthy situation. That's why we need to do everything possible to make sure we have a shot of being in the top 35 next year."

So far in 2009, Smith and the Furniture Row team have entered 15 races and have qualified in 14. The most recent race was two weeks ago in Dover, Del. After California, the team's four remaining races of the season will be at: Talladega (Nov. 1), Texas (Nov. 8), Phoenix (Nov. 15) and the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 22).