DENVER, Colo. (July 6, 2011) — Though it’s been four years since he competed at Kentucky Speedway, the memory is still vivid for Regan Smith. And it’s not a fond memory according to the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing driver.
What happened to Smith in the 2007 Kentucky Speedway Nationwide Series race has nothing to do with the venue. In fact, Smith recently stated that he is looking forward to returning to the Bluegrass state for Saturday night’s inaugural Quaker State 400 Sprint Cup race at the 1.5-mile oval in Sparta, Ky.
But those Kentucky memories still linger for Smith about how he saw a possible victory snatched away due to a fuel issue while driving the No. 4 car for Ginn Racing in his 101st out of 102 Nationwide career races.
“We were the dominant team that evening, but didn’t give ourselves a chance to win due to a fuel miscalculation,” recalled Smith. “I qualified on the pole and led a number of opening laps (45) and felt we were going to win the race. But when I was leading and called into the pits for an early stop, I was already out of fuel. That put us a lap down and out of contention. I guess you could say I have some unsettled business to take care of at Kentucky Speedway.”
It could be said that Smith and Furniture Row Racing have been taking care of business all year. The single-car team out of Denver, Colo. is enjoying its best season with a win, three top-10s, an outside pole and a berth in the Sprint All-Star Race. Smith is also tied with Carl Edwards for the best qualifying average of 11.235.
“It’s been good, but could be better, especially on the 1.5 and two-mile tracks,” said Smith. “The mile-and-a-half and two-mile venues were good to us last year and we felt coming into the 2011 season that we could make up some ground at those tracks. But that hasn’t been the case and hopefully we can change that this weekend at Kentucky.”
Except for an eighth-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, Smith’s record has been uncharacteristically sub par on the 1.5 and 2.0-mile tracks with an average finish of 26.3 in six races.
“Yes, we’ve had some issues at those tracks, like accidents and equipment malfunctions, but overall we still need to pick up our performance,” explained Smith. “We know as a team that we should be better at these tracks and that’s one reason we’re excited about the upcoming Kentucky race. We’re aiming to come away with a good result in Saturday night’s race.”
The Kentucky race will be the 18th of the 36-race Sprint Cup schedule.
“It’s really hard to believe that we’re almost halfway home with the schedule,” noted Smith. “We’re having fun and hopefully the second half of the season will be even better than the first half