While the storyline for this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway is all about newness, Furniture Row Racing driver Regan Smith would also like to start anew.
The Pocono 400 will not only have a new race distance -- from 500 to 400 miles -- but the 3-turn, 2-5-mile track, located in Long Pond, Pa., will also have new pavement.
The weekend newness also affects the television coverage for the 14th Sprint Cup event of the season with TNT taking over as the broadcast partner for the next six races.
Smith, who will drive the No. 78 Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet for the single-car team out of Denver, Colo., is looking for a reversal from Dover, where he was involved in a multicar wreck on Lap 9 of 400. Though he finished 94 laps down, he still managed to post a 27th-place result.
"After what happened at Dover we need to have a strong result in Pocono to get some of those points back that we lost at the Monster Mile," said Smith. "We were improving going into Dover but due to the accident we didn’t have enough time on the track to see if we were continuing to make progress. Pocono will be an important weekend for Furniture Row Racing."
Smith is currently at Pocono Raceway taking part in a two-day test session on the new track surface. Before Smith arrived at the Pennsylvania venue, he already had a gut feeling about what to expect.
“I spoke to our crew guys earlier in the week and they said the resurfacing looked great," stated Smith. "I think the translation for that meant -- the track will be bad fast. Being able to test before Friday's official practice will obviously be helpful in determining a setup for this weekend’s race."
Smith's best finish at Pocono was 15th, which came in last year's June event. In seven career starts at Pocono, he has an average finish of 23.0.
"I feel confident that if we can avoid wrecks, mistakes and malfunctions we should have a solid result," explained Smith, who is 25th in points. "But we have to eliminate problems -- we've had too many this season. We have 23 races to go and Pocono would be a good place to begin a new season for our race team."