FONTANA, Calif. (March 27, 2011) — It was a not-so-kind Murphy’s Law day for Regan Smith and the Furniture Row Racing team.
It did seem as if everything went wrong for Smith, who brought home a crippled race car to a 27th-place finish in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
Heading into Sunday’s 400-mile event, Smith was riding a qualifying high of fourth. But when the green flag dropped to start the race at Auto Club Speedway, he immediately encountered handling issues.
Then there was an early pit-road miscue that added to the team’s frustration. And to make matters worse, just when the handling issues appeared to be improving, Smith’s No. 78 Chevrolet made contact with the wall, causing major front-end suspension problems.
“I want to forget this day as quickly as I can,” said Smith. “Absolutely nothing went right for us. As it turned out, we had a damaged race car and did the best we could to finish the race. We’re close in what we’re hoping to achieve, but we need to be as strong in the race as we are in qualifying.”
Qualifying indeed has been a bright spot for the Colorado-based team. Smith has a 5.8 starting average after the first five races of the season. He has started in the top-five four times. His worst qualifying effort was a very respectable 12th in Las Vegas.
“We’ve made some big gains in qualifying trim, but we need to make the same kind of gains in race trim,” stated Smith. “We’ll do it and we’ll get it figured out sooner rather than later.”
The race winner was Kevin Harvick. Rounding out the top-five in order were: Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman.
The next Cup race is Sunday (April 3) at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.