News & Media


Smith says he won't be back in No. 78 next year

September 21, 2012, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com

LOUDON, N.H. -- Regan Smith, who piloted Furniture Row Racing to its breakthrough first victory on the Sprint Cup tour last season, has been told he won't be back in the organization's No. 78 car next year.

The winner of the Southern 500 last season at Darlington Raceway, Smith has endured a tough 2012 campaign that has so far been without a top-five finish. He confirmed the news to NASCAR.com after qualifying Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

" I think the disappointing thing for me is to sit back and know I suffered through the tough times. Now it appears I'm getting the car ready for someone else, whoever that may be"

--REGAN SMITH

"I've been told it appears I won't be back here next year," Smith said.

Furniture Row's general manager, Joe Garone, could not immediately be located for comment. Smith didn't want to speculate on the reasons behind the impending change. The No. 78 team hired a new crew chief in Todd Berrier around midseason that seemed to turn things around, producing the first back-to-back top-10 finishes of Smith's Sprint Cup career. In the five races since, his best finish has been 14th, although that includes an engine failure last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.

"At the end of the day, we had a poor start to the year. We made the changes I felt like we needed to make as a team to get better and move forward, about three-quarters of the way through the year. And we have -- we've improved. It's been steadily improving and getting better. I think the disappointing thing for me is to sit back and know I suffered through the tough times. Now it appears I'm getting the car ready for someone else, whoever that may be," he said.

"That's a little disappointing for me. With that said, you've got to look at what's down the road also, and I feel like I'm at a point in my career right now where I'm getting better every time I get in the race car. I don't think I've peaked or anything like that. I'm sure there's still some stuff out there. I've been talking to people for some time now, and we'll see over the next weeks, maybe months how it shakes out from here."

Smith is optimistic he will find another ride. "I'm not done racing yet, by any means," he said. "I feel good about myself as a race car driver. I feel strongly about where my talents are and what I'm capable of doing. It's a small garage, but feel like there's some place that could be a home for me."

Smith said he was unsure if Furniture Row had a successor in mind, although Kurt Busch looms as a potential top candidate. A 29-year-old from Cato, N.Y., Smith been with Furniture Row since the start of the 2009 season, recording seven top-10 finishes over that span. He and his wife Megan moved to Colorado last year in order to be closer to the Furniture Row shop, which is in Denver where the businesses of team owner Barney Visser are based.

Now, he said he's unsure if he will finish the season in the No. 78 car.

"It's tough. I think I knew the risks when I did that," he said of the relocation. "I knew the risks ahead of time in choosing to move and take a family and moving out there. ... I knew those risks. It's just part of it. It's part of the sport. It's a situation where I weighed out that and decided I needed to be closer to the team, and that's what I did. Where we go from there, I don't fully know yet. Do we go to North Carolina? Do we stay in Colorado? We don't know all that stuff. This is all kind of new. You try to figure it out as you go along. But we'll roll with the punches as I've always done, and see how it shakes out."