DENVER, Colo. — After getting wrecked unnecessarily at Michigan on Sunday and seeing his top-10 momentum stalled, Regan Smith’s aim is to reignite the surge of his Furniture Row Racing team in Saturday night’s Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“Michigan was a downer — we had a really good car there and felt we could have brought our Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet home with another top-10 performance,” said Smith, who posted a pair of ninth-place finishes prior to Michigan in Pocono and Watkins Glen. “But we got taken out by a move that was totally avoidable. You have to move on, and our focus right now, is to figure out a way to maneuver the Bristol half-mile track that will get us back in the top-10 finishing order.”
History will show that maneuvering Bristol’s high-banked oval has never been an easy task, and the track surface for Saturday night’s Irwin Tools 500 has added a new wrinkle for the 43 cars that will start the 500 lapper.
The half-mile track has gone through a resurfacing facelift since the spring race in March with hopes of bringing back the bump-and-run style of racing that made Bristol’s night event one of the most popular on the 36-race schedule.
“Regarding Bristol’s track surface, we’re just going to have to wait and see how it plays out,” explained Smith, who tested Tuesday at the one-mile Pikes Peak International Raceway oval. “Whatever the differences are to the track it’s going to be equal for everyone, and the teams that can figure out the changes sooner rather than later, will have the advantage.”
Smith, who has had success qualifying at Bristol with a 7.0 average in the last three events at the Tennessee mega facility, would like to see his finishes equal his time trial efforts.
“It’s a good feeling about returning to short track racing, and the way our Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet has been running lately, we are pretty excited about Saturday night’s race at the world’s fastest half mile,” noted the 28-year-old Smith. “It’s always fun going to Bristol and we seem to qualify well there and have strong cars. We had a good car back in March at Bristol but an early incident with the No. 5 car (Kasey Kahne) set us back. If we can stay away from trouble, I feel we are more than capable of posting a top-10.”
In nine career starts at Bristol, Smith’s best run was 14th at the 2008 August race.
The Irwin Tools 500 will be Todd Berrier’s fifth race as crew chief for Smith’s No. 78 Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet.
“All is well in the Furniture Row camp,” stated Berrier. “What happened at Michigan is behind us. The performance was there, the luck factor wasn’t.”