Smith Bolts Back to Finish 14th at Atlanta Motor Speedway
HAMPTON, Ga. (March 7, 2010) -- Regan Smith posted a 14th-place finish as he took advantage of two multicar accidents in the closing stages of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Smith, who started the Kobalt Tools 500 from the 38th position in his No. 78 Furniture Row Chevy, had to deal with a number of issues throughout the overtime race which was extended from 325 laps to 341.
But by skillfully avoiding the last two accidents on the 1.54-mile oval, Smith went from a probable mid-20s finish to a mid-teen result. He restarted 16th after the final caution and was able to pick up two additional spots in the green-white-checkered finish. It was the best result for the Furniture Row Racing team in the first four races of the current season.
"You can look at it any way you want, but we put ourselves in a position to take advantage of an opportunity," stated Smith. "The cautions at the end definitely played in our favor. We were fortunate to avoid the last two wrecks and sneak out a pretty good points day."
The 26-year-old Smith would be the first to admit that he does not have a comfort level with the Atlanta track. "That makes the 14th-place finish a little sweeter," said Smith, his best career result at the Georgia facility. "We worked hard today and good things happened to us. We'll take it and go on to the next race."
Smith added, "When we needed a quick stop on pit road, the Furniture Row over-the-wall crew came through with flying colors. And when we had issues during the race, the guys on the pit box, led by Ryan (Coniam, crew chief) never gave up. They made the car as good as they could make it. A great overall team effort."
Furniture Row crew chief was also proud of how the team turned opportunity into success.
"The cautions fell when we needed them to fall, and we capitalized on a big opportunity." said Coniam. "The driver did a heckuva job at the end. He drove the Furniture Row Chevy as hard as he could and was brilliant in avoiding those wrecks. He didn't have a good enough racecar today, but he stuck with it and kept his composure. We had a throttle hang up, and with all the other adversity we had to deal with a lot of cars would have been in the high 30s. A great points day -- just can't say enough about these guys. I am just thrilled."
Even though Smith's finish was his best of the season, he dropped one spot -- to 26th -- in the point standings.
The race winner was Kurt Busch. Rounding out the top-five in order were: Matt Kenseth, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kasey Kahne and Paul Menard.
The Sprint Cup Series will be off next week. It will resume competition the following week (March 21) at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.