After two consecutive Sprint Cup Series events where late-race incidents sent Regan Smith spiraling down the finishing order, the Furniture Row Racing driver will be aiming to snap the jinx and close the deal in Saturday night's Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.
Two weeks ago in Michigan a flat tire with fewer than 10 laps remaining spoiled a solid run for Smith, and in the following race at the road course in Sonoma, Calif., Smith was involved in a final-lap multicar wreck. His finishes were 28th in Michigan and 32nd in Sonoma.
"The last two race results have been awfully disappointing, but we are determined to change that in Kentucky," said a resolute Smith. "Our Furniture Row Racing team is in need of a performance lift."
The good news for Smith, who will be driving the No. 78 Furniture Row/CSX Play it Safe Chevrolet in Kentucky, is that he is going to what he calls a "comfort zone venue."
"I've always enjoyed racing at Kentucky," stated Smith. "It's a track I feel very comfortable competing on.
I recall being on the pole for a Nationwide race there (in 2007) and had a shot at winning until a fuel issue halted our march to victory lane."
Last year in the inaugural Sprint Cup Series race at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway, Smith qualified 12th and finished 17th. The result had the potential of being better, but an untimely caution after making a green flag pit stop in the late stages of the race stalled Smith's charge to the front.
"We had a decent run last year and know that we can improve upon that 17th-place finish," noted Smith. "And considering what we've been through the past few weeks, I am looking forward to getting back to a mile-and-a-half track.
"We haven't had the rhythm lately and that has cost us in both performance and points. We need to click for the entire race and bring home a strong finishing result. We have the potential, it's a matter of completing the mission."
Smith's uniform and the rear bumper of his No. 78 Chevrolet will again carry the "I Brake for Trains." message. The message is part of CSX Transportation Play it Safe campaign to urge pedestrians and motorists to exercise caution around railroad crossings.