Smith, Furniture Row Racing Taking Daytona Momentum to Phoenix
DENVER, Feb. 23, 2011: Coming off a successful Daytona 500, including a career-best finish, Regan Smith and the Furniture Row Racing team have quickly flip-fopped their focus.
"After Daytona I found time to take a few deep breaths, and for a short period only, rehashed what could have been," said Smith, who finished seventh in the Daytona 500. "But then it was all about Phoenix and thinking how important it is to maintain the momentum we gained during Speedweeks."
Along with contending for the Daytona 500 win before a late-race wreck spoiled his chance of victory, the 27-year-old Smith also posted an impressive second-place result in the 150-mile qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway. He left Daytona sixth in Sprint Cup driver points.
To prepare for Sunday's Subway Fresh Fit 500 Sprint Cup race at the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway oval, the Furniture Row team conducted a test session while in Florida with a visit to Disney World Speedway in Orlando.
"We definitely made some gains at Disney World Speedway," noted Smith. "And that's one of the reasons I feel good about this weekend in Phoenix. We're looking for big things, and know that we have the potential to have a good season."
Smith added, "We need consistent results, and that's why I am happy that we came out of Daytona with a continuation of our success from the late stages of last season. I applaud every one of our guys at the shop for their incredible work ethic and dedication. It's a credit to Pete Rondeau (crew chief) and Mark McArdle (competition director)."
For the record, Smith's No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet posted three top-13 finishes in the final seven races of 2010.
During the offseason Smith kept telling himself about the importance of getting off to a strong start.
"We were upbeat during the offseason and didn't want to lose that feeling," explained Smith. "That's why it was important for us to do well in Daytona and have something to show for it.
"Yeah, I was bummed after Daytona that we didn't have the opportunity to fight for the win at the end. When you're leading the race with four laps to go, it gets pretty exciting. But on the other end of the spectrum, it's pretty demoralizing to get wrecked when you're contending and the white flag is soon to wave."
Sunday's race will be Smith's seventh Cup appearance at the Arizona track. He posted results of 26th and 23rd in last year's two races at Phoenix. He also notched a top-10 starting spot of eighth in the fall race.