NNS: Regan Smith aspires for Cup return, but happy to stay with JR Motorsports

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Regan Smith is in a pretty good place at JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and he knows that.

Smith, who runs second in the series championship to teammate Chase Elliott, always has a solid team and equipment behind him. And he’s certainly capitalized on that this season, earning one win, seven Top-5s, and 24 Top-10s.

So while he wants to one day return to the top-level Sprint Cup Series, Smith believes that his current situation with JRM is fine for the time being.

He’ll stay in it for another season, confirming today at Kansas that he’s signed a new one-year deal.

“I’m excited to be back,” Smith said. “I’ve been fortunate to have a great place to call home and a great place to race at, with good people, good sponsors, and fast race cars. As a driver, that’s something that you always look for and that’s important.

“You want to have an opportunity to get out there and showcase what you can do every week, and I’m fortunate enough to have that…I’ve learned a lot over the past two years, and I’m sure I’m gonna learn a lot more next year even and continue to try and get that championship, whether it’s this year or next year.”

However, the long-term goal is to race in Cup again. Smith has made 172 Cup starts in his career, with a shock win for Furniture Row Racing at Darlington in 2011 serving as the biggest highlight from that stretch.

But Smith felt it was more important at this point to solidify his status for 2015. He also said that he’d rather go into a Cup program that can help him run consistently up front and not stuck in mid-pack.

“Not to say that any of the [Cup] openings out there aren’t capable of doing those things – it’s just, at the time, and based on what discussions I had with people and people within my inner circle, I was excited to be able to come back and work at JR Motorsports for another year,” he said.

“Everything’s been great there from Day 1 and it’s been a steady path of growth, getting better as a company. It’s been fun to be a part of, it’s been fun to see that happen and take place. I still think there’s another step we can take and we are all driven to do that and continue that growth.”

As for his boss, Dale Earnhardt Jr., he’s pleased to retain Smith’s services and to have JRM’s 2015 program remain relatively unchanged from what it is now.

“I’m really, really happy that we’re basically gonna have a carbon copy of what we did this year,” Earnhardt said in his own presser today at Kansas. “We’ve had a lot of success and I think we can build on that. Everything’s gonna stay in place and we’re gonna go on down the road.

“‘On down the road’ [in Nationwide] is just 12 months; when you talk about the Cup Series, you look a little further. But I’d like to race for that company one day, so I hope we’ll keep it healthy until that opportunity presents itself, whenever I’m done Cup racing, to jump in that Nationwide car for a couple years in my own shop.”