Regan Smith Claims Top-10 Finish; Conserving Fuel Leads to 10th-Place New Hampshire Result
LOUDON, N.H. (Sept. 25, 2011) -- This time Regan Smith left New Hampshire Motor Speedway in a happier mood.
Back in the July Cup race at the New England facility Smith was running in 11th place until he ran out of fuel with a few laps remaining. The fuel issue relegated him to the rear of the field with a 33rd place finish.
But on Sunday, Smith's scenario took a 180-degree turn as the Furniture Row Racing driver skillfully conserved fuel in the closing laps of the Sylvania 300 Sprint Cup race to post a 10th-place finish.
"This is the second week in a row where we needed to save fuel to get to the checkered flag," said Smith, who brought home a 17th-place finish in Chicago's fuel mileage race last week. "These final 10 races will be a gauge for 2012 to see how we stack up against the Chase drivers. Being one of the 12 Chase teams is where Furniture Row Racing eventually wants to be. We know we have to reach another level or two, but there is no denying that we are making progress. And yes, the attitude around here is much better than it was after the July New Hampshire race."
The final result was the fifth top-10 of the year for Smith. Prior to the 2011 season both Smith and Furniture Row Racing had never finished in the top-10. Along with the five top-10 finishes, Smith has one win, two top-fives and has been one of the qualifying leaders throughout the season.
"It is sure gratifying to see how far this Furniture Row team has come since this time last year," stated Smith. "We felt it getting better, but you never know if you're really making progress until you actually start proving yourself with some quality results."
Smith qualified 17th for Sunday's 300-lap race at the 1.058-mile oval. He ran in the top-20 for a good portion of the race and then started to pick off track position after the final pit stop with approximately 70 laps remaining.
"Just an all around solid effort," said Furniture Row crew chief and New England native Pete Rondeau, who hails from Saco, Maine. "We missed out on a top-10 finish in July but came back strong today. Any time you can get a top 10, especially in a Chase race, it's a morale boost for the entire organization."
In the last three races Smith has been trending in the right direction with finishes of 18th in Richmond, 17th in Chicago and 10th in New Hampshire.
"We've been stressing consistency and need to continue this kind of performance in the final eight races," added Rondeau.
The New Hampshire race winner was Tony Stewart. Rounding out the top-five in order were: Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers.
The next Sprint Cup race is Sunday (Oct. 2) at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.