With Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 Sprint Cup race winding down at Michigan International Speedway, Smith was looking to equal or better his season best result of 14th. But while running in 14th-place with fewer than 10 laps remaining a flat tire deflated Smith to a 28th-place finish.
“Very frustrating,” said Smith as he exited his No. 78 Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet. “We had a steady, smooth and solid race until the left-front tire went down. I was looking to gain one or two more positions in the closing stretch, but never got the opportunity to do so.”
After nearly a two-hour rain delay, Smith started the 200-lap, 400-mile race from the 12th position. His steady performance on the newly-paved track surface saw him run in the top-20 for nearly the entire race.
“I know it’s hard right now, but we need to put the tire issue aside and concentrate on the positives that we were able to achieve this weekend,” noted Smith. “We almost had that clean, mistake-free race that we’ve been looking for this season, but didn’t quite make it today. We’re seeing improvement with our Furniture Row Racing team and that’s what counts.”
The finish dropped Smith one position in the driver point standings — from 24th to 25th.
The race winner was Dale Earnhardt Jr., who snapped a four-year winless streak. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Juan Pablo Montoya, Marcos Ambrose and Kevin Harvick.
There were 23 lead changes among 14 drivers and eight cautions for 39 laps.
The next Sprint Cup race will be the first road-race event of the season — Sunday, June 24 at the road course in Sonoma, Calif.