Dale Earnhardt Inc. Driver Regan Smith Zones In On Raybestos Rookie Award With 12 races to go, Smith leads Hornish Jr. in close rookie-of-the-year battle MOORESVILLE, N.C. (August 27, 2008) -- As the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit heads down its ...
Dale Earnhardt Inc. Driver Regan Smith Zones In On Raybestos Rookie Award
With 12 races to go, Smith leads Hornish Jr. in close rookie-of-the-year battle
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (August 27, 2008) -- As the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit heads down its final stretch run, Dale Earnhardt Inc. rookie driver Regan Smith continues to lead a heated battle with Sam Hornish Jr. for the Raybestos rookie of the year award. Moving into this weekend's event at Auto Club Speedway (Fontana, Calif.), Smith holds a slight 181-179 lead over Hornish. Smith was able to expand his lead in the race with a solid 14th-place finish in last Saturday night's Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
"I'm just really proud of the way the guys on this DEI/Principal Financial Group team have kept fighting this year," said Smith. "We've definitely experienced the typical 'rookie year' up and downs, but everyone's hung tough.
"The last two weeks have been the perfect example," explained Smith. "We struggled at Michigan, but no one got down -- we just put it behind us. We go to Bristol and qualify fourth and finish in the top 15. My guys are just incredibly resilient and good to work with and each week it feels like we gain a little more ground."
Smith says the Raybestos Rookie award was a goal of the team from the beginning and he knows his team will have to continue to improve if he is to land the prestigious award.
"Winning the Raybestos Rookie of the Year was one of my goals at the beginning of the season," said Smith. "If you look at some of the names of the guys who have won it in the past - it is a pretty impressive list. It is made up of a group of guys that any driver would want to be associated with. Hopefully, I can add my name to that list.
"That has been a goal of this team from day one and it is a goal that we know that if we can continue to keep working hard and learning each week, we can accomplish."
Smith will continue his quest this weekend when the No. 01 rolls into Fontana, where Smith finished 31st earlier this season in his Cup debut at the 2-mile track. The rookie finished ninth at California in his only nationwide start there last season.