Smith banking on more heat in Michigan

[media-credit name=”www.mispeedway.com” align=”alignright” width=”175″][/media-credit]DENVER, Colo. (June 13, 2012) — The improving Furniture Row Racing team is looking for hotter results as the pre-summer stretch run continues this weekend at Michigan International Speedway, site of Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Though the single-car team based in Colorado’s Mile High City has produced better performances recently, the finishes have not been acceptable to driver Regan Smith, who is currently in his fourth season driving the No. 78 Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet.

“There’s been positive movement, but we’re not quite where we want to be at this stage of the season,” said Smith. “I thought we had a shot at a top-10 last week in Pocono, but settled for 16th. We were not happy with that result, but still felt progress was being made.”

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Smith has indeed seen the positive meter recently swing to his favor. In the past four races, the 28-year-old driver has claimed three top-20 finishes, three top-10 qualifying efforts and moved from 27th to 24th in the driver point standings. The one setback during this stretch was being collected in an early multicar wreck in Dover on Lap 9 of 400.

“Before the last four races, we had some issues and things weren’t going in the right direction,” explained Smith. “But since then we have found more speed and that obviously has made a big difference. This business is about speed, speed and more speed. Without it, you’re a back-of-the-pack racer.”

Smith and his Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet will go through another learning curve. Last week it was getting acclimated to the newly-paved Pocono Raceway. This week, it’s the 2-mile Michigan oval, which has also been repaved.

“Back-to-back repaved tracks is kind of unique,” noted Smith. “But we’ll deal with it as will all the other teams. We’re looking forward to Thursday’s test session at Michigan.”

Smith, as is the case with many of the Sprint Cup drivers, has a fondness for Michigan International Speedway and is hoping the new track will still have some of the old traits.

“I’ve always liked racing at Michigan — it was a track where you could pass and feel you had plenty of room to make moves,” said Smith.  “Now that the track has been repaved, I am hoping some of the old characteristics will be the same, but we aren’t going to know for sure until we start testing there.

‘What I do know is that the track is going to be faster — that’s a given.  How much faster is hard to tell. The weather will have a lot to say about what kind of speeds we’ll produce over the weekend. We went through the same process last week in Pocono with its repaved track and I think we all did a good job adapting to the new conditions. I anticipate the same at MIS.”

Smith has six career starts at Michigan. His best finish of 13th came last year in the August race.

Smith’s Michigan International Speedway Sprint Cup Results

St     Fn 2008    31     32               8      29

2010    23    23              20    21

2011      5    33              30    13

Smith’s 2012 Results

Date

Event

St

Fn

Laps

Status Prize Money Driver Points

Standing 2/27 Daytona 500 6 24 200/202 Running 357,034 21 23 3/4 Phoenix 3 20 311/312 Running 93,483 24/45 19 3/11 Las Vegas 28 15 267/267 Running 129,413 29/74 20 3/18 Bristol 6 24 496/500 Running 111,343 20/94 20 3/25 Fontana 22 20 128/129 Running 114,163 24/118 19 4/1 Martinsville 17 16 513/515 Running 106,343 28/146 18 4/14 Texas 26 23 332/334 Running 130,238 21/167 21 4/22 Kansas 29 24 263/267 Running 103,443 20/187 22 4/28 Richmond 15 27 398/400 Running 95,968 17/204 25 5/6 Talladega 31 40 15/194 Engine 87,275 4/208 27 5/12 Darlington 9 14 368/368 Running 117,488 30/238 26 5/27 Charlotte 10 17 398/400 Running 128,488 27/265 23 6/3 Dover 26 27 306/400 Running 103,702 17/282 25 6/10 Pocono 7 16 160/160 Running 101,393 28/310 24

Avg. Start:      16.786 Avg. Finish:     21.929 Money:        $1,779,774

No. 78 Over-the-Wall Crew Front-tire changer              Shane Pipala, Frankfort Square, IL Front-tire carrier                 Jon Bernal, Holland, Mich. Rear-tire changer              Coleman Dollarhide, Hickory, N.C. Rear-tire carrier:                 Dwayne Moore, Griffin, Ga. Jackman                             Gabe Martin, Lake Wylie, S.C. Gasman                              Justin White, Lynnville, Tenn. 2nd Gasman                       Ryan Bergenty, Plainville, Conn. 7th Man/Windshield          Todd Carmichael, Redding, Calif. _____________________________________________

No. 78 Road Crew Crew Chief                       Pete Rondeau, Saco, Maine Competition Director       Mark McArdle, La Crosse, Wis. Car Chief                          Robert Huffman, Hickory, N.C. Engineers                         Phil Jiminez, Germantown, Tenn.                                            Matt Faulkner, Memphis, Tenn. Spotters                            Rick Carelli, Arvada, Colo.                                            Clayton Hughes, Thomasville, N.C. Engine Specialist            Scott Meesters, Hanford, Calif. Engine Builder                 Earnhardt-Childress Racing Shock Specialist              Nick Kerlin, Old Fort, Ohio Tire Specialist                  Chad Krauch, Loveland, Colo. Technical Support           Michael McCullough, Imperial, Calif. Mechanics                         Ryan Bergenty, Plainville, Conn.                                             Todd Carmichael, Redding, Calif.                                             Joe Kerrigan, Canon City, Colo. Transportation                   Henry Benfield (also gas runner), Statesville, N.C.                                             Jim Gilbert, Belleville, IL                                             Dave Hicks, Montcalm, WVa.                                             Chuck Lemay, DeKalb, IL                                             John Slingerland, Sacramento, Calif.                                             Dennis Valverde, Albuquerque, N.M.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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