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Sprint Cup - Chase Races Also Vital for Smith

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DENVER, Sept. 15, 2011: Though he is not in the Chase, Regan Smith views the final 10 races of the season with the same importance as the drivers competing in the playoff championship run.

"'The excitement and hoopla will be on the Chase drivers and that's the way it should be," said Smith. "But that's not going to make any difference about how we will approach the final 10 races. Our Furniture Row Racing team has made some great gains this year, but now is the time to step it up again and get primed and excited for the 2012 season.

"We all feel that we're close to making another performance gain and the final 10 races, beginning with Chicagoland this weekend, are critical from our standpoint. Chase or no Chase, we'll be fighting and working as hard as those 12 drivers competing for the Sprint Cup championship."

Smith enters Sunday's GEICO 400 Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill with one win, two top-fives and four top-10s after the first 26 races of the season.

"This will only be my third time competing in the Sprint Cup Series at Chicagoland," noted Smith. "I believe we had a top-20 finish there last year (20th). This will be a good test to know where we are at from a performance standpoint with the intermediate tracks. If you want to succeed in this business you must have a strong program for the mile-and-a-half and two-mile tracks."

Smith's best finishes at intermediate tracks this season in his No. 78 Chevrolet were eighth at the May race at Charlotte Motor Speedway and 13th at Michigan International Speedway in August.

"It's been a while since we scored a top-10 (3rd, July 31st at Indianapolis) so it's time for our Furniture Row Racing team to knock out another strong finish," stated Smith. "To see how we compete against the Chase teams during the 10-race homestretch will be a good barometer for us."