Smith Thinking About Kansas as Chicagoland Race Approaches

DENVER, Colo. (Sept. 12, 2012) --  Kansas will be top of mind for Regan Smith in this weekend's Geico 400 Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. 

"I'm just as excited about heading to Chicagoland Speedway as are the 12 Chase drivers," said Smith. "The reason for the optimism is that we're taking the same Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet that we tested with in Kansas a few weeks ago. We were really fast in the Kansas test session, which is a 1.5-mile track like Chicagoland."

Smith feels his Denver-based team has strength when it comes to the mile-and-a-half ovals, but his recent result at Atlanta Motor Speedway -- another 1.5-miler -- left him with a personal score to settle. 

"We had a top-10 locked at Atlanta -- I think we were running ninth and nobody was near us, but then with four laps to go a caution came out and during the two-lap overtime restart our car couldn't get up to speed on fresh tires and we got shoved back to a 14th-place finish. I know the 12 Chase drivers are going to be competitive this weekend, but I truly feel that we can get that top-10 that slipped away in Atlanta."

Smith has only started three Sprint Cup races at Chicagoland, but has shown a progression of improvement. He finished 34th in 2008, 20th in 2010 and 17th last year. 

"What we need to do is not play catchup in Friday's two practice sessions," stated Smith. "Getting the car dialed in early and then fine tuning it is our goal along with a strong qualifying effort on Saturday.  Last week in Richmond we didn't take advantage of our third-place start. We were off in the beginning and when the car got better we were already two laps down. That's what we need to avoid at Chicagoland."

While the majority of the eyes will be focused on the 12 Chase drivers during the 10-race playoff format, Smith sees it as an opportunity. 

"If we can run with the Chase guys it will give our team a big lift," said Smith. "When we're competing in the race, I really don't give much thought who the Chase drivers are. They're going to fight for every position and I will do the same."