|Smith maintaining perspective|
Before leaving for Kentucky last week, Smith could see and smell the smoke from raging wildfires that have engulfed Colorado. More than 300 homes have gone up in flames in recent weeks, with more than 100,000 acres torched.
"I love this area and it tears your insides apart seeing the destruction that has taken place," said Smith, who moved to Colorado last year to be near the team's Denver race shop. "Our recent issues are minimal compared to the fire-stricken families.
"I want Colorado residents to know that our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been affected and that Furniture Row Racing is very proud to represent the great state of Colorado on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit,” he said. “I also want to give a shout out to the brave firefighters and safety personnel who risk their lives daily in their continuing efforts to control and extinguish the fires."
Though Smith's home has not been affected, he said the devastation of the Colorado fires will be on his mind in Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. The 160-lap, 400-mile superspeedway event will mark the halfway mark in the 36-race season schedule.
"We started the season in Daytona and we'll be looking at starting another new season in Daytona this weekend," stated Smith. "From the opening Daytona 500 where we had an accident, our season to date has not gone the way we had anticipated. We've had our share of problems. It seems that every time we had a strong performance going, something would step up and bite us that was completely out of our control."
|The Colorado wildfires are still out of control|
The last three Sprint Cup races have been particularly frustrating for Smith and his team. He had a flat tire with less than 10 laps remaining at Michigan on June 17. The following week in Sonoma, Calif., he was involved in a final-lap, multicar wreck. Things didn't get any better Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway, where Smith slammed hard into the concrete wall after hitting oil dumped on the track by another car's blown engine.
Barring mistakes, accidents or malfunctions, Smith knows that his No. 78 Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet will be competitive on the 2.5-mile superspeedway Saturday night. He proved that the team's superspeedway program is capable of competing for the win with a runner-up finish in this year's 150-mile qualifying race for the Daytona 500.
"We've had some strong performances in Daytona," noted Smith. "It's the same old story -- you need to avoid the wrecks and be in the lead draft at the end. We have the potential of running up front, but avoiding wrecks is nothing but a crap shoot."
Smith's best finish at the 2.5-mile oval was seventh in the 2011 Daytona 500. He also had a 12th-place result in July 2009. At this year's Daytona 500, Smith ran a strong race until he got caught up in a multicar wreck that relegated him to a 24th-place finish.