The monster crushed them early, but Regan Smith and the Furniture Row Racing team got off the mat and muscled their way back to a 27th-place finish after falling more than 80 laps down as a result of a Lap 9 multicar wreck in Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway.
As the 43-car field was getting settled in at Dover's Monster Mile, a flurry of spins and crashes erupted on the daunting all-concrete oval, which included Smith's No. 78 Furniture Row/CSX Play it Safe Chevrolet.
The 12-car wreckfest started when Tony Stewart and Landon Cassill made contact coming out of Turn 2. Smith, who was trailing Stewart, ran out of real estate and rammed into Stewart's Chevy, causing a chain reaction.
Smith initially took the blame, but Stewart quickly countered and acquitted Smith of any wrongdoing.
"It wasn't Regan's fault -- he was right behind us and he didn't have anywhere to go," explained Stewart.
"The No. 83 (Cassill) was trying to get back down to the bottom and we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time."
After Smith drove his heavily-damaged car to the garage for lengthy repairs he gave his view on what happened.
“I got into the back of the No. 14 (Stewart) and started the whole thing," stated Smith, who qualified 26th. "I will take full blame for that. Somehow they got checked up in front of me. I just didn’t have time to slow up. I hate that there are so many wrecked race cars here. It’s not fun for anybody, especially my guys on the Furniture Row/CSX Play it Safe Chevy."
The wreck, which was the biggest of the season, forced NASCAR to red-flag the race for nearly 20 minutes.
When the red flag was lifted the Furniture Row Racing crew went to work to repair the crippled race car. Within 45 minutes of the gold medal performance by the crew Smith returned to action, positioned in 37th place. He went on to gain 10 additional spots even though he finished the race 94 laps down.
"What is really shocking is to finish that many laps down and still post a 27th-place result," noted Smith. "Though I am disappointed to get knocked out of contention early, I am proud of this Furniture Row Racing team for their hard and talented work to get me back on the track."
The finish dropped Smith from 23rd to 25th in the driver point standings. He is one point out of 24th and 10 out of 23rd.
"All I can say is that I am leaving Dover with a lot of pride due to how hard this entire race team worked to salvage a 27th-place finish today," said Furniture Row crew chief Pete Rondeau.
The FedEx 400 race winner was Jimmie Johnson. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne and Marcos Ambrose.
The race saw one red flag and seven cautions for 32 laps. There were 17 lead changes among seven drivers.
The next Cup race is Sunday (June 10) at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.