After being relieved of his duties at Furniture Row Racing last month, Regan Smith's future in the Sprint Cup Series hung in the balance.
That is, until a unexpected call from crew chief Steve Letarte changed things. Smith was asked to substitute for Dale Earnhardt Jr at Charlotte and Kansas while Earnhardt recovered from a concussion.
While Smith had a ton of pressure on his hands to bring home solid finishes for JR Nation, he was able to prove to potential Sprint Cup owners that he can be competitive in a top Sprint Cup ride (with a 7th place finish at Kansas), nothing has really articulated when it comes to a full-time ride in the Sprint Cup series.
Driving in place of Dale Jr can be overwhelming. While it brought tons of pressure to the table, the opportunity ended up being very rewarding for the young driver from Cato, New York.
JR Motorsports announced that Regan Smith will be driving the #5 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet Camaro full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series next season. He will begin his transition to the Nationwide Series when he drives in the Nationwide Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.
"This is an extremely good opportunity for me," Smith said in the press release.
"Dale Jr. and I first started talking about this several years ago, but the timing never matched up to where we could make it happen. Now it’s time. I’m happy to be a part of this organization. I don’t want to just win races. I want to be the team that dominates races and contends for the championship."
"Regan has always impressed me," said Dale Earnhardt Jr. "He gets the most of his car, no matter what he’s driving or who he’s driving for. He takes care of his cars and gets good finishes. With his experience and ability, we feel he can excel in our equipment. He has a super personality, and his ability to work with everyone here at JR Motorsports and Hendrick Motorsports will be important in getting us back to the winner’s circle."
I have to say, Regan Smith (from a personal standpoint) made a great decision. As stated already, Smith has not found any full-time opportunities in the Sprint Cup Series. With this deal in place, he has something to fall back on and I think its a great move. He has already proven to the sport that he can compete in top-of-the-notch equipment, but if he can perform in the Nationwide Series next year, there is no doubt in my mind that something could pop up in the Cup Series.