Though early results reveal major improvement for Regan Smith, the Furniture Row Racing driver feels his single-car team hasn't reached its full potential.
After the first six Sprint Cup races of 2012, Smith is ranked 18th in driver points with a 19.83 finishing average.
Last year after six races, Smith was ranked 30th in points with a 26.68 average finish. In his other two full seasons of competition – 2008 and 2010 -- Smith was ranked 34th and 32nd respectively at the same point of the season.
“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs in the first six races, but I am ok with where we are at right now,” said the 28-year-old Smith. “I don’t believe we have shown our hand yet. Too many incidents – both avoidable and unavoidable -- have held us back. But the good news is that we’re grinding and making the most out of our bad days by turning them into mediocre days.”
Heading into Saturday night’s Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Forth Worth, Smith has secured four top-20 finishes and two 24th-place results. His two best finishes were 15th in Las Vegas and 16th in the recent Sprint Cup race in Martinsville, Va.
“The 24th-place finishes and some of the top 20s would probably have been in the 30s last year,” stated Smith. “But we’re learning how to overcome subpar performances. It’s getting everything you can out of the so-so races that counts. It’s like making par-saving putts on the PGA tour.”
Smith says the one area the Denver-based team needs to improve upon is more consistency with speed in his No. 78 Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet.
“We’ve had fast cars this year, but what we need to do is make sure we’re comfortable with our setup after the final practice and then start the race off fast,” noted Smith. “Finding the right setup during the race is sometimes too late. You can’t afford a bad green-flag run on race day. When we got fast in Martinsville, we were already two laps down and you can’t make up track position that way.”
Though Smith has not had good fortune at the 1.5-mile Texas track, he is quick to say that it is still one of his favorite places to race.
"Texas Motor Speedway is very fast and that's why it's one of my favorite tracks,” explained Smith. “We're coming from the slowest track on the circuit (Martinsville) to one of the fastest at Texas. That's ok with me, I'll just pull my seat belts a little tighter. One reason I am encouraged about this weekend is that we found something at the fall race in Texas last year that has helped our mile-and-a-half program.”
Smith is looking to chop off a good portion of his 29.3 career average finish at Texas Motor Speedway.
“I am confident that we’ll have a fast Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet this weekend,” said Smith, who has qualified in the top-10 at the last three Texas races.