By HEATHER WILLIAMS
10:59 PM CDT, May 9, 2011
Over shadowed by the drama of Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick showing their you know what's on pit road, was the story of little old Regan Smith and the team from Colorado that actually won the race. Smith, who is truly one of the nice guys and gentlemen in the garage area, finally got something that was taken away from him in 2008 at Talladega.
I'm not going to rehash the need for or my feelings about the yellow line at that track. My feelings on the issue are well documented. But I will say, I've always felt like Smith was robbed a little that day. I was there, I saw what I believed was Tony Stewart forcing him below the line. The kid isn't the next big thing in the sport, he doesn't drive for one of the big four teams. He's the kind of driver who has a certain window to win a race, I felt like his might have been robbed from him. I'm glad he got another chance.
What Smith has done with this small single car operation based in Denver, 1500 miles from the racing center of the universe, is truly amazing. They have started up front and run there, even if their finishes haven't always shown it.
"Obviously it means everything," said Furniture Row Racing's GM Joe Garone. "We've been six years building this team and literally started from scratch. I can tell you a lot of people, and I can't say I wasn't with them when Barney Visser wanted it run out of Colorado, that we might just be crazy. It's been a long road. Tonight just solidifies all that hard work and shows the racing community that you can win races outside of the normal North Carolina area."
And this season has shown that if you have talent you can run up front, if you have a the right team and a good alliance with a bigger operation. Trevor Bayne and the Wood Brothers did it at Daytona with the help of Roush/Fenway. Furniture Row has the help of Stewart Haas Racing and RCR.
"I watched Trevor win that race. Quite honestly, I felt like we could have won the 500 just as easily. You're happy for Trevor. It was so cool to see. There's a part of you that thinks, That could have been us," said Smith. "That's a big race. We come to the next biggest race, the Southern 500. You have the Daytona 500, the Southern 500, the Coke 600, and the Brickyard. Those are the four. To come here and beat a guy like Carl Edwards. It's incredible."
"You need partners," said Garone. "You need to have those relationships not just in place, but they have to be good relationships. I can't even express how good our relationship is with RCR, how well they work with us, the information flow between us. It's second to none."
For Smith and the entire 78 it validates what they have always felt, that hard work pays off.
"There's been some sleepless nights. I've laid there, I can't fall asleep. Might be after a race. I did this wrong, I did that wrong. I'm my own worst critic. I put everything on my shoulders personally." said Smith. We all do this because we believe in ourselves and because we believe we can win races."
It says a lot about some one when other drivers come streaming into victory lane to congratulate them after a victory. Which is what happened Friday night. And it's moments like that, which make me as a reporter cheer. So while two drivers where throwing tantrums on pit road, at least for one night, a nice guy finished first.
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