Smith: 'Chicagoland is Our Kind of Track'

DENVER, Colo. (July 7, 2010) -- There was a time when Regan Smith and the Furniture Row Racing team weren't so keen about the cookie-cutter tracks -- the mile-in-a-half and two-mile ovals -- which dominate the NASCAR Sprint Cup 36-race schedule.

But that former cookie-cutter attitude has taken an almost 180-degree turn for Smith, who has only good thoughts about Saturday night's race at the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., which begins the second half of the season.  

"After what we've been through the past three races and knowing what we've accomplished at the so-called cookie-cutter tracks this year, why wouldn't I look forward to Chicagoland?," asked Smith. "The last three weeks have been rough, very rough for our Furniture Row team. We need to get back to where we should be with our No. 78 Chevrolet."

The last three races -- at a road course (Sonoma, Calif.), a one-mile track (Loudon, N.H.) and a superspeedway (Daytona, Fla.) -- produced finishes of 38, 33 and 33 respectively for Smith, who was involved in multicar accidents in both Sonoma and Daytona. 

Smith's average finish of 36.3 in the last three races is a far cry from his 19.5 average in six races at either a mile-in-a-half or two-mile oval. His finishes at the cookie-cutter tracks so far in 2010 have been: 19 (Fontana, Calif.), 21 (Las Vegas), 14 (Atlanta), 21 (Fort Worth, Texas), 19 (Charlotte) and 23 (Brooklyn, Mich.).

"We've had decent results at the cookie cutters, but looking back at some of those races we had opportunities for much
better finishes," noted Smith. "I haven't raced a lot at Chicagoland, but I like the track. It has a few quirks as any track does. I've said many times that we are close to making some noise. I still feel that way and it could be this weekend since Chicagoland is our kind of track." 

Saturday night's LifeLock.com 400 will be Smith's fifth appearance at Chicagoland Speedway and his second in the Sprint Cup Series. His only Cup race at Chicagoland was in 2008 when he finished 34th while driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc. He has also competed in three Nationwide Series races at Chicagoland.

Smith's best finish during the first half of the 2010 season was 14th at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March. 

"We've made some big gains since last year," said Smith. "But we are not satisfied by any means. I look for another big gain for our Furniture Row team during the second half of the season."