Regan Smith hasn’t raced a full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since 2012 but this year he’s back and he isn’t wasting any time, finishing eighth in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.
After racing his No. 7 Nikko RC/Golden Corral Chevrolet to score a top-10 in the Dayton 500, Smith said, “It was a good, smooth day for us. The car, other than the spin at the beginning, I don’t know what happened there. But I got on the brakes and it just spun out. It handled great all day long. All the guys at Tommy Baldwin Racing gave me probably one of the better handling cars I’ve ever had here.
“Once it came down to it in the end and we were able to get a little bit of position, and we got four tires and made the most of an opportunity on that last pit stop and it came to life. I’m proud of this team. It’s a small team. We work hard. Tommy pours everything he’s got into this race team. And we’ve got some great partners and great investors, and we’re going to work hard all year.”
Smith spent the last three years in the XFINITY Series with JR Motorsports but his future was uncertain as he announced that he would leave JRM at the end of the 2015 season. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that he found a home with the single-car organization of Tommy Baldwin Racing.
Smith described the chaotic off-season that culminated with this new partnership.
“It feels good. Even three weeks ago, I had no clue what was going on. I got a call from Tommy. Everything happened quick, and the next thing I know I’m coming to Daytona to go racing and have a full-time, locked-in deal with a charter. It was probably one of the craziest off-seasons I’ve been a part of and one of the most unenjoyable to be brutally honest with you. By the time it all played out, it turned out to be one of the better off-seasons for me.”
Smith sees it as not only a new beginning in the Sprint Cup Series but also envisions a future rich with potential.
“I see this as an opportunity to build something and help something continue to grow. Tommy has done a great job with what he’s got already. The difference this year with the alliances and the partners that he’s got is clear for me to see, and I’m new to the program. As I see it and I see the people that he’s brought in and the faces that are there, this is something where I’ve said we can grow this and be what Furniture Row was. The only difference is that I’d like to see it through this time and not see it go away too quick. It’s an opportunity to get back in the Cup series but at the same time, it’s an opportunity to help a team grow and be a part of that growing.”
From uncertainty to stability, Smith is determined to make the most of this second chance. If the Daytona 500 is any indication, the possibilities are endless.