DENVER, Colo. (March 16, 2011) — In a recent interview Furniture Row Racing driver Regan Smith kept on repeating the word “rebound”. As a huge Syracuse Orange fan, one would assume that Smith was talking college basketball and the opening-round games of the NCAA tournament.
But for how much Smith would love to see his Orange advance in the tournament, his full focus is on Sunday’s Jeff Byrd 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. And his multi mentions of “rebound” were a reference to what his Furniture Row team needs to do after suffering unforced problems in the previous two Cup races at Phoenix (collected in an accident) and Las Vegas (engine failure).
“I keep telling myself that things can turn just as quickly for the good as they can for the bad,” said Smith. “We were on a high after finishing seventh at Daytona and felt that what we’ve worked so hard for was paying dividends. But an accident and engine malfunction in Phoenix and Las Vegas kicked us to the curb. Yes, we need to rebound sooner rather than later. And a good result in our Chevrolet at Bristol will quickly get us back to where we want to be.”
Smith and the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team know that tackling the world’s fastest and toughest half-mile track will not be an easy task.
“We’ve been working hard to improve our short track program and there’s no better place to put our efforts to a test than Bristol Motor Speedway,” explained Smith. “It’s a great, but challenging facility — a venue that I will always have fond memories for since Bristol is the place where I made my first career Sprint Cup start (March 2007).”
Smith added, “The Jeff Byrd 500 is a classic race named after a classy person. Mr. Byrd was the key force in making the Bristol race one of the best on the circuit.”
The 27-year-old Smith, who grew up in central New York (near Syracuse), is also fully aware of the pitfalls of a Bristol race.
“You need to respect Bristol,” noted Smith, whose best finish at short track was 14th in August 2008. “If you step out of line, this track will step up and put you out of the race in an instant. We can’t afford any more of those problems. We would like to have our finish be comparable to our performance, which wasn’t the case in either Phoenix or Las Vegas. Our Furniture Row Chevrolets were really good at those two races, but we didn’t have much to show in terms of final results.”
And regarding the NCAA basketball tourney, Smith will be glued to his television Friday night cheering on Syracuse against Indiana State.
“Obviously I like Syracuse in this game, but the early rounds are not much different than racing at Bristol — you just never know how it will all shake out,” stated Smith.