Regan Smith Deserves to Stay at Furniture Row

By Joseph Wolkin
Timothy T. Ludwig-US PRESSWIRE

Regan Smith has been racing in NASCAR since 2002. He didn’t score his first top-ten finish until 2004 in the Camping World Truck Series and 2006 in the Nationwide Series.

His career turned around heading into 2007.

Smith was hired to drive for Morgan-Dollar Motorsports in the Truck Series for ten events. But, that wasn’t his big break.

Bobby Ginn took the chance on Smith and hired the then-23-year-old to drive a part-time Sprint Cup Series schedule, splitting the No. 01 car with veteran Mark Martin. Besides his seven Cup Series races, Smith also ran 17 Nationwide Series races, qualifying in time for each event, including a pole at Nashville.

The next year, Smith was hired by Dale Earnhardt Incorporated to run all but two races in the Cup Series in the same No. 01 car when DEI merged with Ginn Racing. However, Smith’s results didn’t come into fruition as he didn’t finish better than 14th at any point throughout the year.

In 2009, Smith was sent searching for a new ride. He ended up with a mediocre team that was best known for a pole run at Talladega by Joe Nemecheck in 2008.

The team was foreign to the NASCAR world, as they were (and still are) located in Colorado. That team is Furniture Row Racing, owned by Barney Visser, who owns a series of furniture stores.

They paired together to run half the season in 2009 with hopes of running the full-season in 2010, and that they did.

Yet, even though they ran the entire season, they were only able to finish 28th in points with no top-tens.

Something had to click in 2011, and man oh man did it click.

Smith made himself known to the racing world last year, starting at Daytona where he worked with Kurt Busch in the “tandem draft” to come up with his first career top-ten finish.

His breakthrough run came at Darlington on Mother’s Day weekend. Starting mid-pack in 23rd, Smith wasn’t near considered to be a contender for the win, let alone a top-ten finish. But, his crew chief Pete Rondeau made the call to stay out of the pits for a green-white-checkered finish.

Well, the rest is in the history books.

Smith went onto win the race, holding off Carl Edwards in the final two laps, proving Smith can run competitively in the Cup Series.

So far this year, the Cato, NY native hasn’t had the greatest of seasons. Yet, he’s become more consistent over the past few races.

The team replaced Rondeau with Todd Berrier in the crew chief position at Indianapolis and since then, the No. 78 team has gained a position in the points and they’ve only finished outside of the top 20 twice, one of them being at Michigan, where he was involved in an on-track incident.

There isn’t much more Smith can put on his résumé. He took an upstart team and, within the span of a year and a half, took them to victory lane for the first time at one of the sport’s most difficult tracks.

He clearly deserves to stay with this team. Even though there have been multiple rumors that Busch may take over this ride next season, personally I can’t see Barney Visser turning his back on Smith, who is continuing to grow with the team.

It’s unclear if the team will resign Smith, even though he made it clear that he would like to stay with them. But, Smith only has one win with the team. Meanwhile, Busch is a Cup Series champion.

There is always the idea of expanding to two cars in 2013. The rumor of that happening has been floating around since the beginning of the season, especially now that Richard Childress has reportedly shown interest in the Las Vegas native.

Furniture Row receives their chassis’ and engines from Richard Childress Racing, which could be a possible sign to the likeliness of the team signing Busch, expanding their operation to two teams.


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