DENVER, Colo. (March 30, 2011) — Happy Fridays, but can’t trust those Sundays. That would be the short answer about how Regan Smith’s season has been going since the Daytona 500 opener. Now the long answer.
Since his impressive seventh-place performance in the Daytona 500, the past four races have unfortunately played out basically the same for Smith, driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet.
Great qualifying on Friday. Bad luck and disappointing race results on Sunday. Smith has the best qualifying average (5.8) among all Sprint Cup drivers after the first five races of the season. Second is Kyle Busch with a 7.80 average and Carl Edwards is third best with a 9.0 average. Only Smith and Busch have four top-10 starting positions.
Smith’s qualifying efforts in the five races have been: 5th (Daytona), 5th (Phoenix), 12th (Las Vegas), 3rd (Bristol) and 4th (Fontana). And going back to last season, he had top-10 qualifying performances in the final three races.
It’s those gloomy days of Sunday that are getting Smith down. His race finishes have been 7th (Daytona), 34th (Phoenix), 39th (Las Vegas), 22nd (Bristol) and 27th (Fontana).
An accident in Phoenix, engine failure in Las Vegas and a brush with the wall in Fontana have tested the character of Smith and the Denver-based Furniture Row Racing team.
“The spirit and confidence levels have not changed, we know what we’re capable of achieving and it’s a lot better than what our race results have been to date,” said Smith. “Yes, we’ve been happy on Fridays, but not on Sundays lately. I’d rather be happy both days, but if I had to choose one of the days, it definitely would be Sunday. We have some work ahead of us.”
Smith’s goal heading into this weekend’s Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 Cup event at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway is to have to have a strong race performance from start to finish at the historic .526-mile short track.
“Finding rhythm on race day in Martinsville is our first priority,” stated Smith. “We need to be as strong in race trim as we’ve been in qualifying trim. There was a time last year when our biggest problem was qualifying and starting in the rear of the field. Considering how we qualified in the last three races of 2010 and the first five of 2011, the problem appears to be fixed. Now we need to take care of business on Sunday.”