Flat Tire Deflates Smith's Performance in Bristol

BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 21, 2010) -- A flat tire in Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway relegated Regan Smith to a 36th-place finish.

While running in the mid-to-high 20s at the .533-mile short track, Smith's No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet suddenly veered to the right and smacked the concrete retaining wall on lap 323 of 500. The culprit was a deflating right-front tire.

Smith was not injured in the incident, but his car suffered major damage. The No. 78 crew did manage to make the necessary repairs and get the Furniture Row machine back on track with approximately 50 laps remaining in the Food City 500.

"It's unfortunate about the tire going down because we were biding our time and felt we were in position to gain a number of spots," said Smith. "I felt all along that if we could avoid trouble we had a top-15 car. The right-front tire was also an issue with a number of other teams. The (right-front) tire was blistering early in the race and that was a concern."

The result dropped Smith two spots to 28th in Sprint Cup driver and owner points, but well within range of the top 35 teams, which earn an automatic qualifying berth. Starting with Sunday's (March 28) race at the Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, the qualifying point system is based on the current season results.

"We feel that we're a better team than 28th in points, but for now we'll take what we have and move on," said Joe Garone, Furniture Row Racing general manager. "I was really proud of how this team got the car repaired and back on track after it was severely damaged. These guys never quit. Adversity does not get them down -- they just work harder."

The race winner was Jimmie Johnson -- his 50th career Cup victory. Rounding out the top-five in order were: Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth.