Smith Finishes 14th After Seeing Top-10 Slip Away

ATLANTA (Sept. 2, 2012) -- Regan Smith was cruising in the top-10, but a late caution that sent the race into overtime didn't bode well for the Furniture Row Racing driver, who slipped to a 14th-place finish in Sunday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Atlanta Motor Speedway. 

After starting 27th and struggling with handling problems for the majority of the scheduled 325-lap race, Smith's No. 78 Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet came to life in the late stages of the Advocare 500, moving into 10th place on Lap 280. Smith maintained his 10th-place standing until a caution came out on Lap 321 when Jamie McMurray's car blew a tire.  

Following the final caution, Smith as did many other drivers, came into the pits to take on new tires for the green-white-checkered overtime shootout. But as soon as the green flag waved for the final restart on the 1.54-mile oval, Smith's car was void of grip and could not get up to speed. 

"This is really frustrating since we had an apparent lock on a top-10," said Smith. "We didn't need that last caution, but we still should have finished in the top-10. For some reason our car had issues with sticker tires tonight and that was our problem in the final two laps."

Smith added, "While we all wanted that top-10, I am proud of how this team worked through the problems tonight. We've made some big gains recently and feel that we're on track to make even bigger gains."

For a good portion of the race, a 14th-place finish would have looked pretty good for Smith and the Denver, Colo.-based team. 

"No doubt we had our problems, but we kept working on adjustments and never gave up," said Furniture Row Racing crew chief Todd Berrier. "Regan fought hard behind the wheel, and in one respect we had a nice comeback, but on the other hand it was disappointing to not get that top-10. Top 10s aren't easy to come by and when you see one fall by the wayside it leaves you with an unsettling feeling."

Smith remained 23rd in driver points.

The race winner was Denny Hamlin. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Paul Menard, Matt Kenseth and Mark Martin.  

There were 18 lead changes among seven drivers and there were six cautions for 31 laps. 

The next Sprint Cup race is Saturday night (Sept. 8) at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.