Truth is stranger than fiction. Think about it; there are many who believe it was an illegal maneuver by Tony Stewart that cost Regan Smith his first career win at Talladega in the Fall of 2008. Five short years later, the three time champion is parked by a broken leg, and the driver whose name keeps coming up as a possible fill in starting next week is none other than Regan Smith.
Oh, the irony. Put this historical footnote aside, and it has the look of being a great opportunity for Smith, who has no fulltime Cup ride, and whose regular gig these days is driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the Nationwide Series. For his part, Junior says he’d be cool with it.
Currently, the 29-year old is running second in the Nationwide standings with two wins, five top fives and 14 top tens. He’s run six Cup races this year, and his last regular gig in the NSCS was at Furniture Row in the ride now occupied by Kurt Busch.
It would be a move that makes sense. While the Cato, New York native’s career has been rather quiet- aside from a 2010 victory at Darlington- he’s just the kind of driver a team needs on an interim basis. Throughout his career Smith has had the reputation of being a driver who will get your car back to the garage in one piece. In other words, he will make you some money without costing a bunch of money in return.
While one wouldn’t necessarily fancy Regan Smith as a colorful character, he won’t embarrass your sponsors with boorish behavior either. Regardless of who is on the hood- be it Bass Pro Shops or Mobil One, Smith’s blue collar persona is a good fit.
For Smith, it’s a golden opportunity to showcase what he can do in some of the best equipment in the business. Certainly, he has acquitted himself well in Earnhardt’s ‘7’ ride, and that after a career in single car operations, and organizations that were perceived to be struggling or underfunded. If Smith has a good run in the ‘14,’ it makes the case someone should pick him up for a 2014 Cup ride.
Now you can make the argument that Kurt Busch’s present performance at Furniture Row in the same equipment that Smith used to run is evidence that he is no great shakes as a driver. Others would suggest that Busch’s superior numbers are indicative of two things that have nothing to do with Regan: First, that Busch is a cut above all but a handful of drivers (after all, Kurt is a former champion), and second, that FRR has made its own improvements, and perhaps those improvements would have resulted in Smith putting up the best numbers of his Sprint Cup career.
Whichever the case may be, the match of Regan Smith with Stewart- Haas looks like a good one. You get a good guy with a solid record for performance, eager to prove he can run with the big dogs.