Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Under the Spotlight: Regan Smith Looks to Step It Up a Notch

Regan Smith started from the 11th position and ran around the top 10
for much of the day before running out of gas Sunday at New Hampshire.
Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR
Regan Smith and the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team came close to earning their fourth top 10 of the season before running out of fuel in the final laps of Sunday’s Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Smith started from the 11th position and ran around the top 10 for much of the day before fuel mileage relegated him to a 33rd-place finish.

Before Smith ran out of fuel, Kasey Kahne’s No. 4 Red Bull Racing Toyota made several attempts at passing Smith for 5th position, but Smith was able to stand his ground until the No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson came along and propelled himself and Kahne forward and past Smith.

In his eight starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Smith’s best finish was 19th last season and he has an average finish of 28.8.

Smith, who sits 27th in the drivers standings, has seen far more success this year than in the years past. The No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team has seen many firsts this season.

At the Daytona 500, the season’s opener, Smith led the race with five laps remaining and finished seventh. After hitting a rough patch in the season, his tough luck finally ended in May at the Southern 500 at Darlington, where he collected his first win of his career and for his team. Smith also has one top-5 and three top-10 finishes.

“When I look back at the first half of the season it’s been pretty special – getting our first win (Darlington), first top-10, qualifying for the All-Star race, running strong in the Daytona 500 and consistently being at the top or near the top in qualifying average,” said Smith prior to Sunday’s race in New Hampshire.

“We came into this season knowing that we could do this. Right now, I feel that we can step it up another notch or two during the second half of the season. I would like to start the second half the same way we started the first half, which was a seventh-place finish in the Daytona 500,” said Smith.

Kristina LaFountain's columns for Skirts and Scuffs include Red Bull Rundown, Under the Spotlight and Racing Toward a Cause. She is also a contributor for Speedway Media. You can follow Kristina on Twitter @klafounta.


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