In past Sprint All-Star races, Regan Smith was a forlorn television viewer, watching his fellow competitors compete in NASCAR's prestigious event.
But this year's all-star classic, slated for Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, will be different for the Furniture Row Racing driver.
As a result of winning the May 7th Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Smith qualified for his first career appearance in the Sprint All-Star Race. He will be among the 22 drivers participating in the four-segment race of 50, 20, 20 and 10 laps
"The past three years I've been on my couch sitting and watching it (all-star race) and it's been absolutely miserable," said the 27-year-old Smith. "This year I am going to be one of those drivers battling for the hardware and the $1 million payout."
As soon as Smith crossed the finish line at Darlington to win his first NASCAR race, he knew the victory meant an automatic berth in the Sprint All-Star event.
"One of the first comments I made on the radio (after winning at Darlington) was, 'hey, we’re in the All-Star race now, guys!' ", recalled Smith. "And certainly that’s something that every driver in this garage thinks about. I know sometimes everybody says oh well, it is what it is and we’ll see how it all goes down or whatever. But for me, that’s a thrill to be in that race."
Smith went on to say that he is also thrilled the Darlington win qualified his pit crew for Thursday night's Sprint Pit Crew Challenge at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte.
"I am so happy, so proud and pumped up about our Furniture Row pit crew being one of the teams competing in the Sprint Pit Crew Challenge," stated Smith. "These are the perks of working hard and being successful. They've earned this honor and I'll be there to cheer them on."
Smith knows that a win in the Sprint All-Star race could give him and his Denver, Colo.-based Furniture Row team another major boost before the Sprint Cup Series resumes points racing at the May 29th Coca-Cola 600, also at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"There's plenty to shoot for out there and we're going for it all," said Smith. "The Sprint All-Star Race is a no-holds-barred event and we'll be ready to do battle. Once you win, you don't forget the taste of victory. We want more."
Furniture Row Racing PR