High Plains Drifter Mentors Smith for Sonoma Road Race

DENVER, Colo. (June 20, 2012) -- How did Furniture Row Racing driver Regan Smith prepare for the first Sprint Cup road-race of the season?  

He went to High Plains Raceway with the High Plains Drifter. 

Translation: High Plains Raceway is a road course east of the team's Denver shop, and the High Plains Drifter is Smith's driving coach Rick Carelli, an Arvada, Colo. native, who acquired the moniker during his successful career as a late-model, modified, stock car and truck series racer.

"They even have a corner named after Rick at High Plains Raceway," said Smith, driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet. "It's pretty neat that we have a road-course facility fairly close to our Denver (Colo.) shop, and to have Rick offering his expertise is a bonus."

Smith and the Furniture Row Racing team were at High Plains Raceway in Deer Trail, Colo. Tuesday testing for Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 road race in Sonoma, Calif. 

Carelli, an inductee into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame, feels both Smith and the team are well prepared for the Sonoma event. 

"If you don't like road racing chances are you're not going to do well at it," stated Carelli, an original NASCAR Truck Series driver in 1995. "But that's not the case with Regan. He is a good student and welcomes the challenge to improve his road-racing skills. I am looking for a solid weekend out of this Furniture Row Racing team."  

Despite only six career Sprint Cup starts at road course venues -- three in Sonoma and three in Watkins Glen, N.Y. -- Smith has developed a fondness for the left-and-right-hand-turn style of racing, which was once greeted with a bitter dislike by an earlier generation of NASCAR Cup drivers.

But times have changed and today's Sprint Cup drivers, including Smith, have a much different outlook toward the road courses. 

"I enjoy the road course races, it's a nice change of pace," said the 28-year-old Smith, who grew up near the Watkins Glen road course in Cato, N.Y. "It's great racing to watch and as exciting as anything we do during the course of the season. Seeing the beating and banging that goes on, and the guys roughing up each other, make for some really good entertainment. Unlike years past, most of the drivers now look forward to the challenges of road racing in Sonoma and Watkins Glen."

Of his six road course starts, Smith's best finish was 16th last year at the demanding 10-turn, 1.99-mile Sonoma circuit.

"Sonoma is a technical track and you can't let your guard down," explained Smith. "As a rule, strategy is key to having success in road racing -- we almost run these road course races like a Formula 1 race. There are so many reasons I am looking forward to this weekend and one of them is that we continue to find more speed in our Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet."

Smith's Sonoma
Sprint Cup Results :

    ST FN  
  2007 26 30  
  2010 31 38  
  2011 24 16  


Smith’s 2012 Results

Date Event St Fn Laps Status Prize
02/27 Daytona 500 6 24 200/202 Running 357,034 21 23
03/04 Phoenix 3 20 311/312 Running 93,483 24/45 19
03/11 Las Vegas 28 15 267/267 Running 129,413 29/74 20
03/18 Bristol 6 24 496/500 Running 111,343 20/94 20
03/25 Fontana 22 20 128/129 Running 114,163 24/118 19
04/01 Martinsville 17 16 513/515 Running 106,343 28/146 18
04/14 Texas 26 23 332/334 Running 130,238 21/167 21
04/22 Kansas 29 24 263/267 Running 103,443 20/187 22
04/28 Richmond 15 27 398/400 Running 95,968 17/204 25
05/06 Talladega 31 40 15/194 Engine 87,275 4/208 27
05/12 Darlington 9 14 368/368 Running 117,488 30/238 26
05/27 Charlotte 10 17 398/400 Running 128,488 27/265 23
06/03 Dover 26 27 306/400 Running 103,702 17/282 25
06/10 Pocono 7 16 160/160 Running 101,393 28/310 24
06/17 Michigan 12 28 197/200 Running 87,160 16/326 25

Avg. Start: 16.467
Avg. Finish: 22.333
Money: $1,866,934


No. 78 Over-the-Wall Crew

Front-tire changer: Shane Pipala, Frankfort Square, IL
Front-tire carrier: Jon Bernal, Holland, Mich.
Rear-tire changer: Coleman Dollarhide, Hickory, N.C.
Rear-tire carrier: Dwayne Moore, Griffin, Ga.
Jackman: Gabe Martin, Lake Wylie, S.C.
Gasman: Justin White, Lynnville, Tenn.
2nd Gasman: Ryan Bergenty, Plainville, Conn. 
7th Man/Windshield: Todd Carmichael, Redding, Calif. 


No. 78 Road Crew

  Crew Chief: Pete Rondeau, Saco, Maine  
  Competition Director: Mark McArdle, La Crosse, Wis.   
  Car Chief: Robert Huffman, Hickory, N.C.   
  Engineers: Phil Jiminez, Germantown, Tenn.  
    Matt Faulkner, Memphis, Tenn.   
  Spotters: Rick Carelli, Arvada, Colo.    
    Clayton Hughes, Thomasville, N.C.  
  Engine Specialist: Scott Meesters, Hanford, Calif.   
  Engine Builder: Earnhardt-Childress Racing  
  Shock Specialist: Nick Kerlin, Old Fort, Ohio  
  Tire Specialist: Chad Krauch, Loveland, Colo.  
  Technical Support: Michael McCullough, Imperial, Calif.   
  Mechanics: Ryan Bergenty, Plainville, Conn.   
    Todd Carmichael, Redding, Calif.   
    Joe Kerrigan, Canon City, Colo.   
  Transportation: Henry Benfield (also gas runner), Statesville, N.C.    
    Jim Gilbert, Belleville, IL  
    Dave Hicks, Montcalm, WVa.   
    Chuck Lemay, DeKalb, IL  
    John Slingerland, Sacramento, Calif.   
    Dennis Valverde, Albuquerque, N.M.