News & Media

Notebook: Smith needs a finish to match his starts

April 30, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service,

RICHMOND, Va. -- How can the driver with the best qualifying average in the Sprint Cup Series be 30th in the standings?

Regan Smith, who sports a 7.1 average start and an average finish that's more than 19 positions worse than that (26.5), would like to know the answer to that question. First, it might help to figure out why the No. 78 Furniture Row team has improved its efforts in time trials so dramatically.


Race Lineup
2.R. Smith 128.382 21.031
3.C. Bowyer 128.272 21.049
4.K. Kahne 128.150 21.069
5.M. Martin 128.053 21.085

Smith, who qualified second for Saturday's Crown Royal Presents 400 at Richmond International Raceway, had but three top-10 starts last year -- in the final three races -- and posted an average starting position of 24.6.

"Yeah, we've been qualifying really well this year, and I wish I knew why, because the last two or three years, I have not qualified well enough to save my life," Smith said Friday after the Cup qualifying session at the three-quarter-mile track. "The guys have been building faster cars, and I think the key for us now is to be able to translate that to the race.

"We've had some good race cars this year and some bad luck, and we have had some weeks where we wish we had bad luck because we weren't having the kind of week we wanted to -- and it seems like we will be able to finish those ones. So we are right on the cusp of where we want to be, but we have to take that next step with the racing."

Montoya: A win would be nice -- on any oval track

Juan Montoya, pole-sitter for Saturday's race, has two NASCAR victories -- both on road courses.

More than anything, Montoya wants to win on an oval track, because he believes his first victory will be one of many. Montoya doesn't care if it comes on a short track, intermediate track or superspeedway.

"Whatever gives a nice trophy," Montoya quipped. "I really don't care -- do you know what I mean? To be able to go for the championship -- and that's our goal to make the Chase and go for the championship -- you've got to run well everywhere. So I think once we break that (victory drought on ovals), I think we can get it at quite a lot of them."

Montoya entered Saturday's race ninth in the Cup standings with a best finish this year of third at Las Vegas.

No royal wedding for Gordon's daughter

Jeff Gordon watched highlights of the Royal Wedding on Friday morning, but he's not about to use what he saw as a blueprint for his daughter's marriage.

"I thought it was really cool," Gordon said of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. "It's something that you don't get to see very often. I don't really remember when Princess Diana and Prince Charles were married [in 1981], so this is definitely something that I'll remember.

"Now to be able to see how their relationship grows, and hopefully one day to see Prince William as a king, that's pretty cool."

But Gordon's daughter, Ella, who will turn 4 in June, shouldn't expect the trappings that accompanied the nuptials of the royal couple -- or a seven-figure price tag on the ceremony

"Oh, no, definitely not," Gordon said. "No prince and princess wedding happening there. Why do you have to get me all stressed out about that now? I'm already worried about it."