Regan Smith and the Furniture Row Racing team persevered the Monster Mile Sunday, finishing 17th in a gritty performance at Dover International Speedway.
Smith, who started the AAA 400 Sprint Cup Series event from the 18th position, found himself three laps down before the race was 70 laps old due to an untimely caution.
Smith came to pit road under green for his first pit stop on Lap 66 of 400, but three laps later the yellow flag waved, which put him in a precarious position.
"When you go three laps down early it doesn't give you much hope for the remainder of the race," said Smith. "But we hung in there, stayed patient and pulled off a decent finish under difficult circumstances. Todd (Berrier, crew chief) and the guys did a great job in making the car better as the race went on. The car was at its best in the last green-flag run of the day."
Though Smith's No. 78 Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet was handling the way he liked it for the final 79-lap sprint to the finish, he had to drive both aggressively to maintain his track position and delicately to conserve fuel.
"That last run was a little nerve-racking -- it was indeed a balancing act," stated Smith. "We were right on the edge with fuel mileage and Rick (Carelli, spotter) kept on telling me to conserve fuel. I was very happy to see the checkered flag."
Berrier had mixed feelings about the 17th-place result.
"The early part of the race was rough -- we didn't give Regan a good handling race car and we got caught with the caution," noted Berrier, who took over the team's crew chief duties in late July. "I am not pleased with the end result, but considering where we were in the beginning the finish was better than I thought it was going to be. Regan did a great job saving fuel on that last run."
Smith remained 23rd in the driver point standings.
The race winner was Brad Keselowski. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer and Joey Logano.
The race had 11 lead changes among six drivers and there were five cautions for 28 laps. Only the first six drivers finished on the lead lap.