DENVER, Colo. (July 13, 2011) — It didn’t take Regan Smith long to answer how he would like to start the second half of the 2011 Sprint Cup season.
“The same way we started the first half of the season, but a few positions better,” Smith said succinctly.
Smith will get that opportunity Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 begins the second half of the 36-race season.
Smith and the Denver, Colo.-based Furniture Row Racing team are both off to their best start ever, which was triggered by an impressive showing at the season-opening Daytona 500, where Smith finished seventh after leading the race with five laps remaining.
Following Daytona, Smith hit a streak of bad luck with accidents and mechanical malfunctions. But the luck cycle eventually turned and the ultimate success came on May 7 when he captured his first Sprint Cup victory at the historic Southern 500 race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
“If we are fortunate to win more races the victory at Darlington will still be extra special because it was the first,” said Smith. “We not only want to keep the momentum going in the second half, but we want to kick it up a few notches too. And when the final checkered flag waves at Homestead-Miami Speedway, we want to look back and say that we showed improvement right to the end of the year.”
But before the Cup series finishes the season in late November, Smith must contend with the present — the 1.058-mile flat track at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“Going from a road course (Sonoma), to a superspeedway (Daytona), to a mile-and-a-half (Kentucky) and now to New Hampshire’s one-mile track is pretty exciting,” noted Smith. “I like the different configurations each week and have a good feeling that our Furniture Row Chevrolet is going to also like New Hampshire.”
Sunday’s race at the track known as the Magic Mile, will be Smith’s eighth start. His best finish was 19th in last year’s September race.
“Hopefully we can produce another highlight for the 2011 season with a strong run on Sunday,” said Smith. “A flat track like New Hampshire is what many of the Cup drivers cut their teeth on in the early years.”