Smith, Furniture Row Racing Battle Adversity; Post 21st-Place Finish in Vegas
LAS VEGAS (Feb. 28, 2010) -- Regan Smith and the Furniture Row Racing team persevered in Las Vegas, finishing 21st in Sunday's Shelby American NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
Smith, who started 28th, never fell back in track position, but handling issues prevented him from making more of a charge during the 267-lap, 400-mile race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Though crew chief Ryan Coniam was not satisfied with the result, he was pleased about how the team overcame adversity to post another solid finish in NASCAR's elite series.
"When the car is not totally right, you need to race smart as a team," said Coniam. "The driver needs to be savvy on the track, the pit crew needs to be on, and we all have to fight for everything we can get. That is exactly what this Furniture Row team did today. Regan drove a great race and the over-the-wall crew was spot on. I am very proud of this team for how hard they battled today."
Smith could not find the right handling with his No. 78 Chevrolet due to a tight race car and running the majority of the race in dirty air.
"It was a struggle, but give our guys credit, they kept on working on the car and did make it better," explained Smith, who was the last driver to finish on the lead lap. "The pit crew did an awesome job. We're moving forward and that's the key. This is a greatly improved race team compared to what it was at this time last year."
Smith, who had a 19th-place finish in California last week, jumped from 30th to 25th in the current driver point standings, despite a poor finish (39th) in the Daytona 500 opener due to being collected in an early accident.
"It's all about improvement right now, and that's what we're doing," stated Smith. "There's plenty of races to go, and our goal is to be running with the leaders. We'll get there."
The race winner was Jimmie Johnson. Rounding out the top-five in order were: Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth.
The next Cup race is Sunday (March 7) at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Note: The only thing that Smith and Coniam didn't agree on Sunday was which team would win the Olympic gold medal game between the United States and Canada. Smith, an avid hockey fan, radioed Coniam after the race and asked who won the game. Coniam, a native of Canada, and also an avid hockey fan, had a little pleasure in his voice when he told Smith that Canada won 3-2 in sudden death overtime. Smith did not respond.