Cautions, Fuel Mileage Drop Smith to 24th-Place Finish in Talladega Cup Race TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 29, 2007) -- Regan Smith was low on fuel and running in sixth place when Sunday's Nextel Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway was restarted with...
Cautions, Fuel Mileage Drop Smith to 24th-Place Finish in Talladega Cup Race
TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 29, 2007) -- Regan Smith was low on fuel and running in sixth place when Sunday's Nextel Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway was restarted with 10 laps remaining.
It appeared the U.S. Army driver would have enough fuel to finish the scheduled 188-lap race on the 2.66-mile oval. But a caution with four laps to go not only sent the restrictor-plate race into a four-lap overtime, it also forced Smith to come into the pits for a splash of fuel, which cost him valuable track position. He eventually crossed the finish line in 24th place.
"We took a gamble on fuel and it didn't work out," said crew chief Ryan Pemberton. "We had enough gas for a regulation finish, but not for an overtime finish."
"We made the right decision," countered Smith, who completed his third career Cup race. "I couldn't get up front by myself and by not pitting during an earlier caution put us in the top 10. It was a wild finish and who knows where we would have ended up had that caution not come out with a few laps to go. So much luck goes into these superspeedway races, especially here at Talladega."
For the 23-year-old Smith, who is sharing the 01 Army ride with Mark Martin, the finish did accomplish the main objective for the rookie driver. As he did in his previous two Cup races in Bristol, Tenn. and Martinsville, Va., he finished the race with the car in one piece.
"It was nice to take the checkered flag again, but we were definitely better than 24th," offered Smith. "This is a great team and I was hoping to give them a finish they deserve. But we ran a strong race and almost pulled it off. I want our soldiers to know that we gave it everything we have. They inspire me every time I climb into the Army Chevy."
After the first nine Cup races, the combination of Martin and Smith have the 01 Ginn Racing team in fifth place in the Nextel Cup owner point standings.
"Our goal is to make the Chase and run for the owner's championship," said Smith. "We've had a good start and need to continue the momentum."
Martin will return to the 01 Army Chevy for next week's race in Richmond, Va. Smith's next scheduled Cup start will be the road course race, June 24 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.