Despite Daytona Misfortune, Momentum Will Follow Smith, Furniture Row Team to California
DENVER, Colo. (Feb. 17, 2010) -- How can a team coming off a 39th-place finish feel it has momentum going into the next race?
It may seem awkward, but that's exactly how Regan Smith and the Denver-based Furniture Row Racing team feel heading into this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
"Why shouldn't we feel that we have momentum," stated Smith. "I was not only excited about our performance level at Daytona, but also how this team -- with so many new faces -- jelled so quickly. We just got caught up in someone else's trouble, and it cost us to have a poor finish."
Smith started 11th in Sunday's Daytona 500 as a result of an impressive fifth-place finish in the Gatorade Duel qualifying race.
"We were strong in the Duel race, and we were also strong in practice," said first-year crew chief Ryan Coniam. "We truly felt that we had a car and a driver capable of running up front."
But when the green flag waved to start the 52nd running of the Daytona 500, Smith's optimism quickly soured. He got collected in a mulitcar wreck on lap 8 of 208. The accident was triggered when Brad Keselowski experienced a flat tire and went into a violent spin.
Smith's Chevrolet suffered major damage in the incident and spent 118 laps in the garage being repaired by the No. 78 crew.
"The crew guys did an absolutely awesome job to get me back on track – they almost had to rebuild the entire car,” explained Smith. “By getting back on track we did gain four positions, and it showed the never-give-up attitude of this team. Picking up those four spots could make a huge difference down the road.”
Smith added, “Because it didn't go our way in the Daytona 500, that's not going to dampen all of the good things that are happening with this Furniture Row team. The excitement and optimism are the same as they were prior to Daytona. There's been a lot of effort and commitment put into this team, and no one is hanging their heads. Daytona was only one race out of 36."
Regarding Sunday's Auto Club 500, Smith said, "We’re all upbeat about this weekend's race in California – it’s a track I like and we’ll be ready for another good performing weekend. We can’t worry about gremlins, breakage, accidents and all of the other bad stuff. We’re focused on getting a good result and building more momentum.”