Smith Looking for Another Strong Phoenix Performance
DENVER, Colo. (Nov. 11, 2009) -- Regan Smith is looking for some Phoenix International Raceway déjà vu -- up to a certain point.
Though he had an undeserving 28th-place finish in the April Sprint Cup event at the one-mile oval, the weekend performance -- minus the final pit stop -- was one of the best, if not the best for Smith and the part-time Furniture Row Racing team this season.
Smith qualified his No. 78 Chevy Impala SS ninth and ran in the top 10 for the first 50 laps before slipping back in the top 20. As the race was winding down, Smith moved inside the top 15 and was looking at a top-10 or better finish. But a miscue on the final pit stop of the race sent him to the back of the field.
"You talk about mixed emotions -- I sure had them after the last Phoenix race," recalled the 26-year-old Smith. "It was such a great weekend for us, but we had nothing to show for it on the final result sheet. The practices, the qualifying effort and the race itself were all great, except for that one costly hiccup at the end."
To prepare for another strong Phoenix performance in Sunday's Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500, the Denver, Colo-based Furniture Row team conducted a test session earlier in the week at the one-mile Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo.
"We had another good test session at Pikes Peak," added Smith. "The last time we raced in Phoenix we also tested at Pikes Peak and it was a huge benefit. We're looking for similar results this weekend. We really want to close out the season on a positive note with solid results in Phoenix and at the season finale in Homestead (Nov. 22)."
Running a part-time 20-race Sprint Cup schedule in 2009, the Furniture Row team is gearing up to run a full 36-race slate in 2010.
"There's a lot of buzz at our Denver race shop right now," offered Smith. "Both the team roster and the shop size are expanding. We all have an upbeat feeling heading into next season. Running all 36 races is going to make us a better team. It's been fun and we're even going to have more fun."