The incident in Sunday's Sprint Cup race spoiled a strong qualifying effort and a potentially solid run for Smith, who started the Food City 500 from the sixth position. Smith was getting settled in at the half-mile oval when he and Kasey Kahne made contact in Turn 1 on Lap 24 of 500, triggering a seven-car accident. Though Smith avoided crashing into the wall or getting clipped by another car, his No. 78 Furniture Row/CSX Play it Safe Chevrolet suffered major front-end damage.
“I am not sure why the incident with Kasey happened, but it was way too early in the race for anything like that to occur,” said Smith. “He came up on me and I didn’t have any place to go. He might have thought he cleared me, but he didn’t. It was costly for us as it was for many other teams.”
Smith added, “After the incident we just didn't have the same race car that we practiced and qualified with. We were handicapped, which was unfortunate, because I felt we could have produced a pretty good finish today.” Due to the lack of cautions, Smith found himself two laps down before the halfway mark and was running in the low to mid 30s. But Smith battled hard to gain back as much ground as possible.
“We didn't give up. We just tried to squeeze out as many positions as we could in our Furniture Row/CSX Play it Safe Chevrolet,” noted Smith, who ended the race four laps down. “You're going to have days like this. It’s no fun, but you have to deal with it and make the best of what you have.”
Smith is tied for 19th in driver points, but is listed as 20th with the tiebreaker going to Jamie McMurray. The Bristol race winner was Brad Keselowski. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers, Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jimmie Johnson, and Paul Menard. The Sprint Cup circuit will head west to Fontana, Calif. for Sunday’s (March 25) Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway, the fifth of the 36-race schedule. The next CSX co-sponsored race is April 1, at Martinsville, Va.