DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 2, 2011) — A Saturday night cruise-along suddenly turned into a demolition derby at Daytona International Speedway.
And one of the victims in the late-race wreckfest was Furniture Row Racing driver Regan Smith, who limped home with a battered race car to a 24th-place finish in the Coke Zero 400.
The wild Sprint Cup finish resulted in the race being extended from 160 to 170 laps with two green-white-checkered overtime restarts.
As Smith was looking to make a move in the first green-white checkered restart, he got collected in a Turn 1, 15-car melee on Lap 164. His No. 78 Chevrolet suffered major right-side damage in the incident.
“No doubt, we had an injured race car, but were still hoping to salvage a decent finish,” explained Smith. “But on the final lap, the left rear tire went flat and I was fortunate to just finish the race.”
The flat tire on the final lap was not the only problem that Smith faced. He was involved in another major wreck, an 18-car accident not far from the finish line.
Before being wrecked twice, Smith drove a patient race as he mainly teamed with Kurt Busch in the tandem draft on the 2.5-mile superspeedway. The Furniture Row Chevrolet ran up front for a good portion of the race and led twice for four laps.
“We ran well with Kurt as we did here during Speedweeks back in February,” said Smith, who finished seventh in the season-opening Daytona 500. “Even though we got shuffled to the middle of the pack before the first big wreck happened tonight, I still felt we could have made a move and picked up a number of spots in track position. But those wrecks and flat tire ended any hopes of that happening.”
The race winner was David Ragan, his first career victory. Rounding out the top-five in order were: Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch.
The next race for the Furniture Row Racing team is Saturday night (July 9) — the inaugural Sprint Cup event at Kentucky Speedway.