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Stewart-Haas Racing Names Regan Smith
Interim Driver for No. 41 Team at Atlanta

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Feb. 23, 2015) – Stewart-Haas Racing has named Regan Smith interim driver of its No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekend Feb. 26-March 1 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Smith will begin driving the No. 41 car during the open test session on Thursday. The race on Sunday will be Smith’s seventh Sprint Cup start at Atlanta. His most recent Sprint Cup start at the 1.54-mile oval was on Sept. 2, 2012 when he finished 14th.

Atlanta will be Smith’s second race in the No. 41 car. He drove the Haas Automation Chevrolet to a 16th-place finish last Sunday in the Daytona 500. Smith already had some history with Stewart-Haas Racing prior to Daytona. He subbed for Tony Stewart in the team’s No. 14 car last August at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.

Smith was the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year and won the 2011 Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. He is a fulltime driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and finished second in the 2014 championship standings. Smith, 31, is from Cato, New York.

An interim driver for the No. 41 team at next weekend’s Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and subsequent races has not been determined.

Smith Finishes 16th in Daytona 500

Interim Haas Automation Driver Delivers Yeoman’s Effort

Regan Smith, interim driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished 16th Sunday in the 57th running of the Daytona 500, the season-opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

Smith was selected to drive the No. 41 Chevrolet after Kurt Busch was indefinitely suspended from NASCAR on Friday afternoon. He had just one practice session Saturday to get comfortable in the car, and his laps were limited to single-car runs, as the Tony Gibson-led team did not want to risk damaging their racecar.

Smith was credited with taking the green flag from the 24th position Sunday, but he started at the back of the field due to a driver change after qualifying, per the NASCAR rulebook. He spent the first several laps trying to get a feel for the car’s handling in the draft. Despite struggling with a tight-handling racecar, he bided his time, logging laps while coming to pit road when the opportunity allowed for the Haas Automation team to make needed chassis adjustments. The adjustments sometimes hindered and other times helped cure the handling woes of Smith’s racecar.

“We started off really tight and weren’t able to get it to turn,” Smith said. “It was frustrating. I anticipated a much better day. The Haas Automation team did a nice job all weekend, but we just couldn’t overcome the tightness in the corners.” 

A late-race caution pushed the race into overtime, setting up a green-white-checkered finish. Gibson called the No. 41 to pit road for four fresh tires, giving Smith one final opportunity at improving his position. The strategy saw Smith restart toward the back of the field, but with savvy driving he managed to avoid a last-lap incident that occurred in front of him and advance to the 16th position before NASCAR elected to throw the caution flag, freezing the field and ending the race. 

There were seven caution periods for 26 laps, with six drivers failing to finish the 203-lap race, which was extended three laps from its scheduled 200-lap distance by a green-white-checkered finish. 

Smith did not accumulate points in the race, because he is a full-time driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. 

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Folds of Honor 500 on Sunday, March 1, at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race starts at 1 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its prerace show at noon. 

Regan Smith Race Report:
Daytona 500

  Start 24th
  Finish 16th
  Laps Completed (Led) 203 of 203 (0)
  Points (Bonus) N/A
  Standings (From Leader) N/A
  Condition (Status) Running


Daytona Mishap Spells Rough Start For Smith

Regan Smith completed 93 laps of Saturday’s Alert Today Florida 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series event at Daytona International Speedway, the last of which saw his No. 7 Hellmann’s Chevrolet cross the start/finish line upside down.  The incident led to an uncharacteristic 35th-place finish.

After a strong start of 12th and a quick climb up the leaderboard, Smith instantly set his sights on the leaders.  Running easily on the bottom, the 32-year-old New Yorker took the lead for the first time on lap 69, eventually leading twice for 15 laps.  Smith within striking distance of the lead when Daniel Suarez got loose on the high line as the field came into the tri-oval to complete the 93rd lap.  Smith occupied the low line as Suarez’s car slid across the track and collected the right rear corner of the No. 7 Hellmann’s car, sending it into a lazy rollover through the infield and out of the race.
Ryan Reed won the race, followed by Chris Buescher, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon and Brad Keselowski. JRM team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 10th, while JRM teammate Chase Elliott took damage in the crash that knocked Smith out of the race and later retired after another crash, finishing 26th.

Regan Smith, driver No. 7 Hellmann’s Chevrolet

“I was going straight, then I saw the wall, saw the air, saw the ground, saw the air again.  Basically everything but what I was supposed to be seeing. It was disappointing. We had a fast Hellmann’s Chevy. All the guys worked real hard like they always do, and put us in position to win the race. That’s all you can ask for here.

“(About the accident) I saw the 18 (Suarez) trying to wreck for quite a while, and I guess he got a bump draft or something and got squirrelly. The unfortunate part is he was two laps down. It didn’t change the outcome, or what happened to our car. We’ll fight hard, dig our way out of a hole. We have the team and the equipment to do that. I haven’t been this pumped up about the start of a season in a while, and I feel good about where we are. It’s a minor setback.”

Regan Smith Race Report:
Alert Today Florida 300

  Start 12th
  Finish 35th
  Laps Completed (Led) 93 of 120 (0)
  Points (Bonus) 10 (1)
  Standings (From Leader) 26th (-37)
  Condition (Status) Accident

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