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- Location Darlington, SC
Driver Regan Smith’s No. 78 Furniture Row / CSX Play it Safe Chevrolet came in at 14th place at the Darlington Raceway May 12, but Smith took first place in the Play It Safe team’s hearts.
Mindful that Smith was the defending champion of the Darlington Bojangles’ Southern 500 and that he planned to host his mother for the race on Mother’s Day weekend, the team pulled out all stops to publicize their cause.
“We arranged for a satellite media tour with Regan and attracted about 16 news outlets to interview him between 7:30 a.m. on Thursday before the race and race day,” said Cliff Stayton, director-Community Affairs and Safety. That put Smith in back-to-back interviews with radio, TV and newspapers, including coverage by Fox Sports, ESPN (Smith, at center in photo), and affiliates representing the other three major networks.
“Smith did a great job thanking his parents, especially his mother, for their support over the years,” said Cliff. “But for us, he also made sure he passed along the Play It Safe messages to exercise caution at crossings and stay away from our tracks. We thought that because of the events surrounding his presence, it would be probably the year’s best opportunity to spread those messages.”
Still displayed prominently on No. 78 is the “I Brake for Trains” bumper sticker, and CSX employees had plenty more to hand out to fans before the race.
Smith’s 14th place finish was his best for the year, and under the circumstances was a respectable position. The Darlington track is notoriously difficult, being one of the oldest and most narrow of NASCAR’s superspeedways. Although in the top 10 for the first 40 laps, his car hit the wall on the 41st and sustained light damage. Later, his car was boxed in by others at a pit stop and it also suffered front end damage in a collision at a restart. He spun out on Lap 307, but managed to regain control of the car.
The Play It Safe team will reprise the CSX presence again at the NASCAR event in Dover, Del., on June 3.
The excitement over the Play It Safe campaign is not lost on the rail media. For photos and commentary on Regan Smith and his 2012 NASCAR season, visit the Railway Age website at railwayage.com and click on the Play It Safe tab on the navigation bar.