Smith, TBR will work in 2016
Photo by Benjamin Palmer/TheRacingExperts.com
Regan Smith waves to the crowd at Phoenix International Raceway during driver introductions
prior to the start of the Axalta Faster. Tougher. Brighter. 200 in March 2015.
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
While fans may be
confused on the January 21 announcement of Alex Bowman and Tommy Baldwin Racing
parting ways, the move makes sense for the two parties.
Alex Bowman is now a free agent, but the acquisition of Regan Smith brings stability and credibility to the single-car operation.
2016 will mark Smith’s first full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series since 2012.
While Bowman was expected to be back for a second season, Smith was the best pick up for the team from the available free agents.
Smith, who spent three full-time seasons in the Xfinity Series with JR Motorsports, finished top-five in points in each of those seasons.
Despite three wins and 52 top-ten finishes over the last two seasons, Smith was the odd man out, as the team moved on in favor of Elliott Sadler.
In fact, the addition of Smith is arguably TBR’s most prolific full-time hire since its inception in 2009.
Smith has one victory in the Sprint Cup Series and has been called upon as a relief driver three times since 2014.
Photo by Jeremy Thompson/TheRacingExperts.com
Regan Smith practices for the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speewday in November 2015.
During his three full seasons in the No. 7 Xfinity Series ride, Smith finished on the lead lap 87 times in 99 starts. Smith averaged a tenth place qualifying position and averaged a ninth place finishing position.
While TBR and Smith will face a lack of resources compared to multi-car organizations, a fast start to the season could sustain early momentum in 2016.
Smith’s first career Sprint Cup top-ten finish and his last two to date have come on restrictor-plate race tracks.
The TBR organization has earned its only top-ten finishes in its history (two) at plate racing venues.
Not only running well at plate races, but winning isn’t out of the question for Smith and TBR.
If Smith finds victory lane this season, earning a Chase berth would be a first for both parties.
The 2016 season has the potential to be a building year for Smith, as well as the potential for the highest finish in driver points for TBR in the team’s history.