REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING CHEVROLET met with media and discussed what his team is doing to improve, how the 2010 season helped with momentum, and more.
IS YOUR PIT CREW GOING TO BE BETTER THIS YEAR? "Yes, I think we made some big gains there. I was with those guys yesterday, actually. Our whole team flew in and did pit practice the guys who will be going over the wall so that we can just coordinate everybody; who is pulling tires, who is pulling hoses and who is doing this and that. They were spot-on. We threw some stuff at them and I was driving the car and I would slide through the box or do stuff that will happen in a race situation and they didn't miss a beat. We threw some pretty challenging stuff at them and they were pretty much Johnny --on-the-spot if you want to call it that. So I'm excited about those guys. They look good in practice. I've seen them practice a couple of times now. We've got the Shootout for them to get warmed up and get ready for the season and the 150's aren't going to be the first time we come down pit road and work together. Saturday night is, which is really nice. So, I'm pumped up about that. We're fortunate that Stewart-Haas was in the position to where we could work together with them on that deal."
HOW AGRIVATING IS IT FOR A NEW DRIVER TO IMPROVE HIS POSITION ON THE TRACK AND HAVE SOMETHING HAPPEN AND TO HAVE TO GO BACK OUT AND PASS THOSE GUYS? "Very. You know it's so tough to pass as it is now. If you can get five positions throughout the course of an entire tire run, that's not a bad tire run when you really sit back and look at it. You occasionally see somebody gain 20 spots. But it doesn't happen nearly as much now as it used to with these cars and stuff. That's the easiest spot to lose your gain is on pit road. I think for a driver when it's not in your control and that happens, you really get frustrated easily and you've got to try and keep it out of your mind and focus on okay, this is what I can control. But after you pass one car six times throughout the course of the race and you keep seeing him and you know you're clearly quicker than he is, it gets frustrating. I think that for us, that showed up a little more at the end of the year as we were running with better competition, we would lose more spots in the pits. It was kind of a building frustration that we needed to address and we did."
DO THEY NEED TO HAVE TOUGHER STANDARDS TO MAKE THE BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT MORE SPECIAL? "I think that's what we have the All-Star race for is the winners and stuff like that. I don't make the rules or the standards. I would say that last year, the reigning rookie of the year got in and the year before he didn't. So, that was disappointing for me. I think this year I was really excited to get the call to get into the race. The flip side is if we get to a situation where there are 15 cars out there racing in the Bud Shootout, it's going to be a pretty boring race no matter how you look at it. It's about putting a good product on the race track for the fans. Based on the drivers that are in that race, you're going to see a really exciting race. You can make a lot of arguments different ways and you know what? That's what they've decided to do this year. They change it up every year. Personally, I was a big fan of the pole-winners, when they used to do it that way. I thought that was a neat thing because you've already got a race for the race winners and past champions and things like that. So when you threw a race out there for winning poles, it was enticement to go win a pole. I remember a good friend of mine who won a pole the year that they took away the pole-winners thing and he was super-bummed out that they did it that way. But it is what it is and I'm happy to be in the race and I'm not going to really change my opinion that I'm happy to be racing on Saturday.
"Again, I can't vouch for how they come up with the rules or anything like that to make this race what it is or whatever. All I can say is that I'm happy to be racing in it. If it were to switch to pole-winners, then obviously we're going to bust our butts to win a pole, but I think that we don't make the rules, we just drive by them basically."
BUT THEY CHANGE THE RULES EVERY YEAR SO YOU WOULDN'T HAVE KNOWN WHETHER YOU NEEDED TO GET A POLE OR NOT "Well, this is true. I didn't know until four weeks ago that I was going to be in it anyway. So we had to scramble to get a car put together. We just weren't anticipating that to happen."
IS YOUR CONTRACT YEAR-TO-YEAR NOW? "No. I'm good for a couple. I'm good through next year."
WHAT STICKS WITH YOU IN THE NASCAR GARAGE? SOMETHING THAT HELPED YOU OR SAID SOMETHING TO LIVE BY THAT HELPED YOU ALONG THE WAY? "Probably the one that always sticks out in my mind was Jimmy V from his from his speech back in the day about 'don't give up, don't ever give up'. There was just something about that speech. I thought that was a great speech. I thought that was amazing. Here's a guy on stage getting ready to die essentially, and he gets up there and I thought it was one of the most courageous things I've ever seen. Yeah, I would say something like that maybe."
EVERYBODY IS OPTIMISTIC AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR. DO YOU HAVE SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT WHAT WOULD REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM? "Well, I think the way we ended the year is certainly one thing we can look at. Just like everybody, we worked all off-season on everything. The main thing for us is that we were on just an up-tick at the end of the season that it really motivates you going to the off-season and keeps you on track as to what you need to be working on and doing and stuff like that. We haven't had any employee turnover. We haven't really had any major changes. The biggest one is going to be the pit crew stuff. That was an issue toward the end of the season. We've got good engines with the RCR engines, or ECR engines; and we've still got our technical alliance with RCR which has been huge for us. For us, there's nothing negative going this year. It's all been positive so we don't have any question marks really. We feel like everything we've done is something that's more of an exclamation point than a question mark."
WHAT ARE THE KEYS TO YOUR SUCCESS? "Well, the one thing that really killed us last year, we were implementing a lot of new cars throughout the course of the year but by the end of the season I think the one thing that would hurt us was we could get qualifying good and we had speed, but then we would not maintain our position the first run of the race. It seemed like we always needed one pit stop to be able to maintain our position after that. If we can get to where we qualify in the top 10, but we maintain that on the first start of the race; and we were just missing a little something at the start of the races maybe from Saturday practice to Sunday practice, if we can kind of iron that out I think that's going to be one of our keys all year. And we've got to improve our short track performance. We lost a lot of points on the short tracks last year. We went to work on that also, already. We've been testing to try and fix that. At the same time, you don't want to let anything else slide either."
-source: team chevy