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Rookie star Regan Smith will be at Daytona in a Cup ride after all

By Mike Mulhern

   Regan Smith, whose dramatic run at Talladega last fall thrust him into the NASCAR spotlight, will have a Sprint Cup ride in 2009 after all.
   The Colorado-based team owned by Furniture Row businessman Barney Vissar and run by Joe Garone announced Wednesday it will put the 25-year-old Smith in its Chevrolets for at least 12 races this season, beginning with the Daytona 500. The team has technical support from Rick Hendrick.
   Smith, Cup rookie of the year last season, was left on the sidelines when Dale Earnhardt Inc. lost most major sponsorship. Smith finished every race he ran last season for DEI, 34 of the 36. The upstate New York state native, one of the great untold stories of 2008, will thus get to relaunch his career. 
   "Though it's a single-car team that battles heavy odds against the mega-car operations, the organization has always been highly respected in the garage for its use of some of the best equipment as well as an undying commitment to growing a winning team," Smith said. "That's all a driver can ask for. And I can't wait to get to Daytona."
    At Talladega last October Smith appeared to have won the 500 by passing Tony Stewart on the final lap and crossing the finish line first.

   However NASCAR assessed a controversial penalty on Smith for passing Stewart below the yellow line and not only gave the win to Stewart but knocked Smith back to 18th.

    Smith's run with the team includes Daytona, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Talladega, Dover, Sonoma, Daytona in July, Watkins Glen, Richmond in late summer, and the fall races at Dover, Talladega and Phoenix.

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