BRISTOL, Tenn. — Regan Smith brought home a battered race car to a 16th-place finish in Saturday night’s Irwin Tools 500 Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The entertaining 500-lap event, which saw numerous spins and crashes, was reminiscent of the old Bristol races as the beating and banging along with plenty of sheet metal carnage returned to the high-banked, half-mile oval.
“It was a rough night,” said Smith, who started the race from the 14th position. “It was difficult to pass and that’s why you saw so many incidents and cautions. We took our share of licks, but managed to keep our car in one piece and finish on the lead lap.”
Though Smith was pleased with how his Furniture Row Racing team overcame adversity, he was not happy with himself for unintentionally wrecking Danica Patrick late in the race.
“It was my fault, no excuses on my end,” said Smith about the incident with Patrick. “After I made contact with Danica’s car I radioed my spotter to relay a message to her spotter that I was sorry and know the apology doesn’t make it any better. She was running a great race and I don’t blame her for being madder than a hornet because I was in the same position a week ago in Michigan. I was just as frustrated in Michigan as she is right now.”
Smith’s MIchigan reference was about how he got wrecked in last week’s Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway while running in the top-12.
After what happened at Michigan, Smith was looking for a strong result at Bristol, but three different times during the race his momentum stalled. He got tangled in a racing incident with Kurt Busch on Lap 323. He then suffered more car damage when he made contact with Casey Mears’ spinning car on Lap 419. A few laps later, Smith’s Chevrolet got rear-ended by the No. 16 car (Greg Biffle) which knocked out the bumper bar.
“Our Furniture Row/Farm American Chevy took a beating tonight and our guys did a great job in the pits, fixing the problems that we had,” explained Smith, who remained 23rd in driver points. “Our car was fragile at the end and I was really happy to see the checkered flag.”
The race winner was Denny Hamlin. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Brian Vickers, Marcos Ambrose, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne and Paul Menard.
There were 22 lead changes among 13 drivers and 13 cautions for 87 laps.
The next Sprint Cup race is Sunday night (Sept. 2) at Atlanta Motor Speedway.