The Regan Smith/Phoenix International Raceway relationship can be categorized as one-sided.
Unfortunately for Smith, his fondness for Phoenix’s 1-mile oval isn’t being reciprocated, especially at the two previous Sprint Cup races in the Valley of the Sun.
Smith, driver of the Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet, got collected in an accident in both of the 2011 Phoenix Cup events, relegating him to finishes of 34th and 38th respectively.
He was involved in a 14-car wreck in last February’s race and then crashed into David Ragan’s spinning car on the second lap in the November race.
Smith and the Denver, Colo.-based Furniture Row Racing team are looking to reverse their misfortunes in Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500.
“For both races in Phoenix last year, I felt good about our car,” said Smith. “We had good practices and qualified well (5th and 15th). But the luck meter wasn’t on our side. Despite those two accidents, I still feel good about our Phoenix car. Barring any crazy stuff happening on the track, I look for our Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet to have a solid outing in Sunday’s race.”
After nearly two weeks in Florida for the season-opening Daytona 500 Smith is banking on a smoother race weekend in Phoenix.
“My first hope for Phoenix is that it will be back to normalcy after what we endured during the final two days in Daytona,” noted Smith. “Daytona is in the history books and Phoenix is now the main focus. Though Daytona is the biggest prize in terms of prestige, it pays the same amount of driver points as the other 35 Sprint Cup races.”
Speaking of Daytona, Smith did leave Florida with mixed feelings.
“We proved that we could run up front in both the 500 and the qualifying race,” explained Smith. “But the final result (24th) was not even close to what our performance was. We were one of the unfortunate victims, who got collected in an accident late in the race.”
Despite the disappointment, Smith did find a silver lining with the Daytona result.
“One of our goals this year is to make sure our bad days are better than what they were last year,” said Smith. “To finish 24th with a battered race car that limped to the checkered flag wasn’t bad at all. If that were last year, it most likely would have been a finish in the high 30s. Having better bad days will hopefully add up for us by the time we get to the final pre-Chase race (at Richmond) in September.”
Sunday’s race will be Smith’s eighth start at Phoenix. His best finish was 23rd, which came in the 2008 and 2010 November events.