Oval Comfort Zone Boosts Smith's Spirits
DENVER, Colo. (June 23, 2010) -- Regan Smith is happy about returning to a more familiar environment as he and the Furniture Row Racing team continue their progression in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in this weekend's LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Last week in Sonoma, Calif. Smith was competing in his first road race in nearly three years and both the performance and end result at Infineon Raceway left him with a yearning for oval track racing. While running in the low 30s, Smith's No. 78 Chevrolet took a major hit in a multicar accident on Lap 67 of 110. Smith left the Northern California track with a 38th-place finish.
"Road racing can be fun except when you get banged up like we did in Sonoma," said Smith. "To be honest I am really looking forward to New Hampshire and oval-track racing. We've been on an improvement roll lately and see no reason why it can't continue in New Hampshire."
Smith has notched five top-25s and three top-20s in the last five oval races with his best finish of 17 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in early May. The performances have led the Furniture Row Racing team to reset its goal.
"We used to say a top-20 would meet our goal," offered Smith. "But based on how we have run since Darlington, that goal is now a top-15 for each race. It is definitely a realistic goal and we just need to ramp it up. Those last five races on ovals we had a shot for a top-15 in at least three of them. What we've been accomplishing makes it much more fun to come to the racetrack every weekend. I like the New Hampshire track and I know my crew chief (Pete Rondeau) feels the same way. He probably even has a stronger liking than I do."
Smith is right about his crew chief's feelings toward the "Magic Mile" in Loudon, N.H. Rondeau is from Saco, Maine and has raced many times at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in what was formerly called the Busch North Series.
"For me it's always nice to get back to the New England area and race at the New Hampshire track," said Rondeau. "Being from the area doesn't give us an advantage but if I can help Regan find a way to roll through the corners with more speed in Sunday's race then that would be great. This entire Furniture Row team is feeling upbeat about what we've accomplished and about the potential for the future."
Smith has competed in only five Cup races at New Hampshire -- two in each 2007 and 2008 and one last year. His best finish was 23rd in September 2008.