Sprint Cup - Chase or No Chase, Smith Says It's Always Crunch Time
DENVER, Sept. 1, 2011: As part of an ongoing initiative to promote the importance of the American farmer and rancher, Regan Smith will drive the No. 78 Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet in Sunday night's AdvoCare 500 Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
It will be the second of a recent three-race Farm American schedule for the Furniture Row Racing team, which is teaming with its financial partner Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers to increase the awareness of having a robust agriculture industry and bridging the communications gap between rural and urban America.
"It's always a special time when our Furniture Row Chevrolet showcases the Farm American paint scheme," said Smith. "It's a cause that is important to our U.S. food supply and we are proud to represent our farmers and ranchers. We had a nice finish with the Farm American car in Michigan (13th) and hopefully we can improve on that result in Atlanta this weekend."
While it's crunch time for the Chase contenders in the Sprint Cup Series, Smith says it's crunch time every week of the season for his Furniture Row Racing team -- from the first race in Daytona Beach, Fla. in February to the November finale in Homestead, Fla.
"Call it self-imposed pressure, but we go into every race feeling this is the time we need to make a move," said Smith. "We're a growing organization and feel good about the incredible progress we've made this season. But we're by no means where we want to be -- I would love to be fighting for a Chase position this week in Atlanta and next week in Richmond, but we're not. Hopefully our continued progression will get us to a point of being a Chase contender next year. That will obviously be our goal for 2012."
Smith and the single-car Furniture Row Racing team have shown signs that they can compete with the best of the best. The team has garnered one win, two top-fives and four top-10s this season. A marked improvement for the young franchise based in Denver, Colo since the team's career statistical columns for wins, top fives and top 10s were each listed with a zero prior to the 2011 season.
"If you look at the top teams it's consistency that got them to the top of the heap," stated Smith. "That's something we have to work on. I feel we've been more consistent with our performance than we have been with our finishes. We let some good results slip away. An example was last week in Bristol (Tenn.) when we ran in the top-10 for the first half of the race, but then got caught in traffic at the end and settled for an 18th-place finish."
Smith and the No. 78 Furniture Row team will be looking to build on its past two finishes at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Last season when Atlanta hosted two Sprint Cup races, Smith posted finishes of 14th and 17th.
"We have to bring the entire package to Atlanta from our main shop in Denver," explained Smith. "Atlanta is a very fast track so you need horsepower, aero and a really good handling car. That's the ultimate hat trick for a solid tune-up and I am confident we will have all three in Atlanta."