Smith Still Gaga Over The Lady

DENVER, Colo. (May 4, 2011) -- Though she's daunting, intimidating, menacing, ominous and threatening, Regan Smith is still in love with the Lady in Black.

The Lady in Black is one of NASCAR's code names for Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, the narrow 62-year-old egg-shaped oval that has caused more grief, anxiety, and yes, car damage than most venues in the Sprint Cup Series.

"It's a thrill to race at Darlington," said Smith. "But you have to have plenty of respect for the track. At each turn on every lap it seems like that hard concrete wall jumps out at you. That's how close you are to the wall. One little misstep, you'll have one of those infamous Darlington stripes. But no matter how difficult and intimidating that we make it sound like, Darlington Raceway is still one of my top-three favorite tracks. I love to race there."

So far in only three career Sprint Cup starts at Darlington, Smith has managed to avoid major trouble at Darlington. His finishes in order have been 29th (2008), 21st (2009) and 17th (2010).

"I like the yearly improvement we've had at Darlington and hopefully we can improve on last year's finish of 17th," noted Smith. "But first things first. You need to finish the race without heavy car damage. Lose focus for a split second, you'll most likely be in the fence and then in the garage with a banged up race car."

Smith, whose 7.1 qualifying average continues to lead the Sprint Cup Series, is looking to build on the past two race finishes of 15th at Talladega and 17th at Richmond during Saturday night's Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

"The past two finishes have been somewhat encouraging for us with 15th and 17th-place finishes in Talladega and Richmond," said Smith. "It's not where we want to be, but considering what we endured the previous six races our Furniture Row Chevrolet is heading in the right direction. We need to stay patient and get as many points as possible. We have a lot of ground to make up, but I am confident that we'll get it done."

Furniture Row crew chief Pete Rondeau agrees with his driver about the team's improvement. 

"We need to continue to finish races and then shoot for those top 10s," said Rondeau. "We had a pretty rough stretch after Daytona, but we hung in there and didn't let all of the bad luck affect us."