DENVER, Colo. – When it comes to competing at a superspeedway with a restrictor plate requirement Regan Smith has mixed feelings.
The 29-year-old driver, who enjoys competing on NASCAR’s big tracks, will be looking to overturn a five-race superspeedway negative streak in Sunday’s Good Sam Road Assistance 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
“We just haven’t been able to show our strength in recent superspeedway races,” said Smith. “Accidents and malfunctions have definitely short-circuited the potential of strong finishes.”
In the past five superspeedway races – three in Daytona and two in Talladega – Smith either took an early exit or limped home with a damaged race car. His most crushing blow during this period was back in May at Talladega when a blown engine sent him packing after only 15 laps into the race.
“We might not have fared well in the last five superspeedway races, but in each of those events the Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet had the potential of running up front with the contenders.”
Smith was involved in multicar accidents in last year’s summer race at Daytona and in Talladega’s fall race. The superspeedway misfortunes continued this season with an accident in the season-opening Daytona 500, an engine failure in the May Talladega race and an accident in the Daytona summer race.
“Hopefully it will be a different ending on Sunday,” stated Smith. “A lot of effort goes into building a superspeedway program and the guys at the shop and on the road deserve something good.”
When Smith refers to “something good” it’s not just a top-10 or top-five finish – it’s about winning the race, which he has unofficially managed to do in the past.
It’s been four years — Oct. 5, 2008 — when joy turned to utter shock for Smith at Talladega Superspeedway. While driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc., Smith crossed the finish line first in the 188-lap race, but after a brief celebration NASCAR ruled that he passed the lead car (Tony Stewart) on the final lap below the out-of-bounds yellow line. The victory went to Stewart while the penalty sent Smith to an 18th-place finish.
“It’s been four years, but what happened on that day is still vivid in my memory,” said Smith. “The bottom line is I still think I won the race. A victory on Sunday would of course ease that bad memory. The No. 78 Furniture Row/Farm American Chevy is definitely capable of being in Victory Lane.”