Smith Finishes 24th in Richmond
RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 8, 2012) -- Regan Smith finished 24th in Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 Sprint Cup race, which had two major rain delays at Richmond International Raceway.
Wet weather held off the start of the 400-lap, 300-mile race for two hours, and on Lap 152 NASCAR was forced to red flag the race for nearly one hour as a persistent drizzle fell over the .75-mile short track.
"The weather along with the way we ran made for a long night of racing," said Smith, driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet.
Smith entered the race feeling confident after a stellar qualifying performance Friday that landed him a third-place starting position. But it was apparent early in the race that he was struggling with handling issues as he fell back to 11th place when the first caution flew on Lap 45.
"We didn't have the proper grip and the car was a handful to drive," explained Smith. "We kept on making adjustments and eventually the Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet did come around, but by the time it did we were already two laps down."
When the race was restarted after the one-hour red flag, Smith was positioned in 19th place and continued to drop back on the leaderboard.
"Our guys never quit and worked hard to come up with a combination that would give our car some additional bite," stated Smith, who remained 23rd in driver points. "Unfortunately, when the car did feel better it was too late into the race."
Smith added, "We had some solid races recently, but it just didn't click for us tonight. We all feel frustrated that we didn't take advantage of our strong qualifying effort. It will just make us work that much harder next week at Chicagoland Speedway."
The race winner was Clint Bowyer. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick.
There were 17 lead changes among 10 drivers and there were six cautions for 41 laps.
The race -- 26th of the season -- was also the final pre-Chase event. The 12 seeded Chase drivers -- in order of points -- who will vie for the 2012 Sprint Cup championship during the 10-race playoff format are: Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon.
The next Sprint Cup race is Sunday (Sept. 16) at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.