Nationwide Series championship contender re-ups with JRM.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Regan Smith has found a home -- at least for next year.
On Thursday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted that Smith has re-signed to drive the No. JR Motorsports 7 Chevrolet in 2015.
Smith, 31, is enjoying his second full season with JRM. He is currently second in the Nationwide Series point standings and maintained a position inside the top three since his victory in the season opener at Daytona. Since his debut with JRM in the 2012 season finale when he earned his first career win, Smith has earned four victories with the team.
You want to have an opportunity to go out there and showcase what you can do every week, and I’m fortunate enough to have that.
“It’s just a one-year deal,” Smith said. “I’m excited to be back. I’ve been fortunate to have a great place to call home and a great place to race at, with good people, good sponsors and fast race cars. As a driver that’s something that you always look for and that’s important. You want to have an opportunity to go out there and showcase what you can do every week, and I’m fortunate enough to have that.
“As bosses, Dale (Earnhardt Jr.), Kelley (Earnhardt Miller) and Mr. H (Rick Hendrick) have been absolutely amazing for me. I’ve learned a lot over the past two years, and I’m sure I’m going to learn a lot more next year even and continue to try and get that championship, whether it’s this year or next year. With all things said, I’d like to get two in a row.”
Still, the end game for Smith is a full-time Sprint Cup ride. After a rocky start with Bobby Ginn and Dale Earnhardt Inc.’s last season, Smith found stability with Furniture Row Racing. He spent nearly four seasons with the Denver-based team. His most successful run was in 2011 when he won his first – and FRR’s first career victory in the Southern 500. But towards the end of the following season, FRR opted to enlist former NASCAR champion Kurt Busch.
While Smith has found rides as a super sub since, it’s been difficult to latch on to a full-time Cup ride.
I definitely want to get back to Cup.
“I definitely want to get back to Cup,” Smith said. “I don’t think I’ve ever denied that or said that I don’t. That’s the goal. I want to prove that I belong there and get to race on Sunday’s and get to run the longer races again. Naturally, there are some openings—on paper, it would appear—on that (Cup) side.
“I think a lot of thing would still have to play out on the Cup side, and a lot of things look like they’re still taking place over there, and some quality race teams that are still trying to figure out what they’re going to be doing, but at the time, I just felt like it was time to go ahead and start trying to solidify some things for next year and know, generally speaking, where I’m going to be.”
Kelley Earnhardt Miller, president of JRM, says she’s “excited” to continue the company’s relationship with Smith. She's fond of the driver and his family and feels the dynamic between Smith and rookie Chase Elliott is positive.
It brings a lot of continuity to the program.
Kelley Earnhardt Miller
“It brings a lot of continuity to the program,” Earnhardt Miller said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “Regan is a great driver, a veteran driver and he’s eager to keep putting wins on the board – and hopefully, win a championship which he has the opportunity this year to do.
“So we’re excited about that.”