|Furniture Row's Regan Smith|
Regan Smith has been looking forward to Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway ever since he and his Furniture Row Racing team finished a Goodyear tire test at the two-mile oval on July 30.
According to Smith, the test went so well that the team packed up early and headed back to its home base in Denver, Colorado with a new level of enthusiasm.
"I have more confidence going into Michigan than I ever had going into a race in my career," said Smith this week. "The only reason we left the test early is because we felt that strongly about how good our Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet was."
Smith also has other reasons for his newfound optimism. In the two races that followed the Michigan test, the 28-year-old driver posted consecutive ninth-place finishes at Pocono and Watkins Glen. Those results marked his first Top-10s of the season, and the Watkins Glen finish was his career-best showing on a road course.
"No doubt this Furniture Row Racing team has taken a huge leap (compared) to where we were the majority of the season," said Smith in an interview on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio this week. "We made some big changes, and with those changes came a lot of different ideas with the race car. We fundamentally changed everything and the performance has picked up.
“I'm doing the same thing in the race car that I've done all year, the cars are just going faster. We're unloading with speed, and once you unload with speed, you can work on the fine-tuning details to get the car ready for the race."
Smith also tipped his hat to new crew chief Todd Berrier, who joined the team three races ago. In those three races, the team has averaged a 12th-place finish, nearly half its season average of 22.5.
"Todd Berrier is one of the most meticulous persons that I've been around in my career," explained Smith. "We believe in each other, and when you have that kind of chemistry, good things develop."
Despite Furniture Row Racing’s recent run of success, Berrier said he wants more out of the team and knows the potential is there.
"We're moving along at a nice pace, but obviously we want to pick it up and keep on improving," he said. "I believe we can do that and reach that new level of competition."
Smith enters Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 with seven career starts at MIS and a best finish of 13th, achieved in last year's August race.
"As we know, so many things can happen in a race,” he said. “But I would be awfully disappointed if we didn't better that 13th-place finish.”
Photo: LAT Photographic