[media-credit name=”www.phoenixraceway.com” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]PHOENIX (March 4, 2012) — What appeared to be a top-10 finish turned out to be a 20th-place result for Regan Smith, who ran out of fuel with two laps remaining in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway.
“When I crossed the start/finish line with two to go our Furniture Row/Farm American Chevy ran out of fuel,” said a disappointed Smith, who was running 10th at the time. “All I could do at that point was coast to checkered flag on fumes.”
After Smith’s last pit stop on Lap 230 of 312, the team knew that it was going to be touch and go with having enough fuel for the remainder of the race.
“We were a little short of our fuel window, but was hoping to stretch it out,” said crew chief Pete Rondeau. “One more caution would have saved us, but when it comes to a fuel mileage race it’s always a gamble. You win some and lose some. Today we lost, but we’ve won a few in the past too. Overall it wasn’t a bad weekend and Regan drove a solid race today.”
Smith’s roller coaster weekend at the 1-mile oval started off with two subpar practice sessions on Friday. The team regrouped on Saturday as Smith posted a strong qualifying run, claiming the third starting spot for the Subway Fresh Fit 500.
When the green flag waved to the start the second race of the season, Smith ran virtually in the top-five for the first 75 laps.
“Running up front in clean air was great,” noted Smith. “Even though we had some handling issues, we had speed. We fell off in the middle of the race, but regained our momentum as the race was winding down. You always look back and wish you could have saved more fuel. You know, it’s a fine line sometimes. You’re out there trying to maintain track position and save fuel at the same time. It’s not an easy task. The toughest thing to tell any race car driver is to slow down.”
The 20th-place result was Smith’s best finish at Phoenix in eight starts. Last year he was involved in accidents in both of the Phoenix Cup races.
“I guess finishing 20th is somewhat of a consolation after what happened to us here last year,” said Smith. “But it should have been a top-10.”
After two of 36 scheduled races, Smith finds himself in 19th place in driver points. He finished 24th in the Daytona 500 season opener.
Sunday’s race winner was Denny Hamlin. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Joey Logano.
The next Sprint Cup race is Sunday (March 11) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.