DENVER, Colo. (May 16, 2012) -- Soon after Regan Smith took the checkered flag to win the 2011 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway one of the first thoughts that came to his mind was that he had just qualified for the prestigious Sprint All-Star Race.
One year later that stunning victory is still paying dividends for the Furniture Row Racing driver, who is again qualified for Saturday night's Sprint All-Star Race based on the Darlington win.
Smith will be one of 23 drivers vying for the $1 million winning prize in NASCAR's annual classic, contested at the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"The Sprint All Star Race has it all -- it's not only fun and thrilling for the fans, but it's a prestigious event that I am truly honored to be part of," said Smith, driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet. "Sprint is an incredible sponsor and all the drivers are very much appreciative of the extra miles they put in during this week, including Thursday night's Sprint Pit Crew Challenge."
Not only will Smith be competing against the "Big Dogs" of the sport, but the Furniture Row Racing over-the-wall crew will also have the opportunity to showcase their talent at the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge, Thursday night in uptown Charlotte at the Time Warner Cable Arena.
"This is a special honor for our pit crew as well," said Smith. "I will be there cheering them on and offering whatever support I can. Our Furniture Row over-the-wall guys have been doing a great job this year and they also have the potential of doing something special at their high-profile competition."
Smith and the Denver, Colo.-based Furniture Row team are looking to make a better showing than their inaugural Sprint All-Star race last year. An accident and fuel issue forced Smith to retire from the 2011 race prematurely with a 20th-place finish.
"We had a couple of bad breaks last year," recalled Smith. "But we feel our Furniture Row/FarmAmerican Chevrolet has the potential to do something special this weekend. There's plenty of strategy that goes into the Sprint All-Star Race, and every car in the field will have a shot at the victory."
Though Smith was disappointed with his showing in last year's all star event, he felt the experience helped the team pull off an eighth-place finish the following week in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"No question, the Sprint All-Star race gave us great data for the Coca-Cola 600," stated Smith. "This year we are looking for solid back-to-back results at Charlotte Motor Speedway."
Smith is coming off his best finish of the season -- 14th in last week's Southern 500.
"That was a respectable finish and hopefully it's the push we needed to get us back in the right direction," said Smith. "Charlotte Motor Speedway is one of my favorite tracks and that's another reason I am really looking forward to the next two weeks."