Smith Heading to South Florida with Different Outlook
DENVER, Colo. (Nov. 18, 2009) -- A year ago when the NASCAR season was about to conclude at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Regan Smith came to the final race of the year not knowing if he had a future in the Sprint Cup Series.
The Cato, N.Y. native didn't have any concrete offers to mull over during the off season as he was preparing to drive in his final race for Dale Earnhardt Inc. in the No. 01 Chevrolet Impala SS.
But soon after the 2008 season ended, Smith received a call from Joe Garone, general manager of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team, to see if he would be interested in driving a part-time schedule for the Denver, Colo.-based organization.
Smith, who captured the 2008 Raybestos Rookie of the Year honor, agreed to the ride. It turned out to be one of his best career decisions.
When the 26-year-old Smith shows up at Homestead-Miami Speedway for this weekend's finale, it will be minus the anxiety he was enduring a year earlier. After entering 20 races in 2009, Smith and the Furniture Row team are slated to run a full 36-race Sprint Cup schedule in 2010.
"I guess you could say what a difference a year makes," said Smith. "I was real fortunate to get hooked up with the Furniture Row team after last season. The team's resources and on-track commitment were very appealing. I am thrilled that it all worked out and I am eagerly looking forward to driving the Furniture Row Chevy again next year."
Another reason for Smith's excitement about joining Furniture Row was that he would again work with Jay Guy, the crew chief on the No. 78 team.
"I worked with Regan in the Truck series and knew then that he not only had talent, but was also a savvy driver who knew how to take care of equipment,” noted Guy. “We're happy that he joined us. He has done a great job for us and I feel by running a full time schedule next year, it's only going to get better for both Regan and the Furniture Row team."
While there won't be the anxiety about having a Cup ride next year, there will still be the weekly anxiety of attempting to qualify for Sunday's race. Last week Smith failed to qualify in Phoenix. It was only the second time in 19 attempts this season that he did not make the starting field.
"Last week (in Phoenix) was a shocker and it caught us off guard," said Smith. "It's going to be a battle again, but I feel good about cracking the starting lineup this week."