When Regan Smith drove his car to the garage after Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, it would have been hard for anyone to imagine that he just posted his best finish of the season, bringing home a fifth-place result in a wild and frenetic ending at Talladega Superspeedway.
Smith's Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet was one of 25 cars involved in a harrowing, final lap wreck during the green-white-checkered finish.
"My car got clobbered, but somehow I was able to drive it to the checkered flag with a fifth-place finish," explained Smith. "I need to look at replays to see how it all came about and how it all finished. Everything happened so quickly. What a wild ending."
Smith's Chevrolet looked like it came out of the first phase of a car crusher. The rear-quarter panels were crumpled, the front-end and hood were caved in and the two front tires were worn down to their cords.
"I am sure the fans and television audience thought it was exciting, but it was pretty hairy inside the car," noted Smith. "It was just another typical Talladega finish."
When the green flag waved to start the two-lap green-white-checkered finish Smith was positioned in 28th place due to a late pit stop to top off the fuel tank. During the first lap of overtime, he picked up 12 positions and was moving forward.
"It's hard to say where we would have ended up had there not been that final lap accident, but we had a fast car all day and deserved a strong finish," said Smith.
The fifth-place result was also a career-best finish for Smith at a restrictor-plate race. His previous best was seventh in the 2011 Daytona 500.
Smith remained 23rd in driver points, five points behind 22nd (Juan Pablo Montoya).
The race winner was Matt Kenseth. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, David Ragan, Smith, Greg Biffle, Brad Keselowski, Travis Kvapil, Ryan Newman and Jeff Burton.
The next Sprint Cup race is Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.