NASCAR newsmaker: Regan Smith

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REGAN SMITH

Regan Smith hold up a trophy in Victory Lane after winning the Showtime Southern 500 on Saturday, May 7, 2011 at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, S.C.  Willis Glassgow/AP Photo
Willis Glassgow/AP Photo
Regan Smith hold up a trophy in Victory Lane after winning the Showtime Southern 500 on Saturday, May 7, 2011 at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, S.C.

No. 78 Chevrolet - Furniture Row Racing

For the second time in his Sprint Cup Series career, Regan Smith was the first driver across the finish line last Saturday at Darlington Raceway. But for the first time he was declared the winner.

Nearly three years after having a victory taken away at Talladega Superspeedway for passing below the out of bounds line, Smith was the surprise winner of the Southern 500. He talked about the win after the race. Here are excerpts of his interview:

Q: What were your emotions after you took the checkered flag?

A: There were a lot of emotions. I was trying to get them all out at that point so I didn't show it too much on TV there. But I couldn't help it. It's Mother's Day weekend. My mom is not here. She's in Tuscaloosa, Ala. She left (last) Thursday, about the same time I left to come down here, to help out with the recovery efforts and save some animals down there. She's down there doing that. She's always been there for all my wins, all my races, everything. She doesn't miss too many of them. To not have her here, that got me choked up a little.

Q: After having the race taken away from you at Talladega, did you ever think you'd have the opportunity to win?

A: There's been so many ups and downs for my career, so many points where you think, Man, what am I doing? What's the next move? I think it's obvious now the best thing that happened to me was the end of the '08 season I didn't have a drive, I didn't have a ride, got hooked up with Barney (Visser, car owner) and Joe (Garone, general manager) and Furniture Row Racing. There's a lot of times the guys could have got down on me last year, this year, some races this year, but everybody stuck behind me and has given me the support that I needed as a driver to keep my head on straight. I'll be honest with you: When I walked to the car today, I literally thought we could win the race. I think that every week when we walk to the car. The difference was this week, we did. It's very special.

Q: When was the last time you won a race?

A: It's been a while. Last major win I had was '08, a Late Model race up in Canada, the IWK 250, one of the bigger races they run. I made a comment earlier, this isn't a knock on Talladega at all, but I would trade all of them for one win in the Southern 500. This is so special. We were looking at the names and faces on the trophy. You think about it. My face is going to be right there next to these guys and it's going to be there forever. You can't change that. It certainly means a lot to me.

Q: Does this win help you get in position to earn one of the two wild card spots for the Chase?

A: We've been thinking about that for three or four weeks now, since we dug the hole in points, we've had that talk already. We need to take chances like we did tonight and try to sneak some wins out. Our main focus was, Let's try and sneak as many wins as we can and get back in the 20 points.


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