Regan Smith's debut with Hendrick Motorsports lasted all of 65 laps, suffering an engine failure in his first race substituting for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Saturday night's NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Smith had worked his way into the top 10 following a 26th-place starting position when smoke began pouring from the back of the No. 88 Chevrolet on lap 62. Smith circled the track a few more laps before ultimately taking it to the garage.
Upon arriving, teams from both the No. 88 and Stewart-Haas Racing No. 39 began working on the car, evoking memories of Ryan Newman's blown engine during Friday practice.
Smith said the engine provided no warning that it was set to expire and that it went out, "just like that."
"We're still looking at everything," Smith said of his expired engine. "I think the important part is that we had a really fast race car. We had a good adjustment there, went a little too far with it and got a little too free. We needed one more stop and I think we would have had it dialed in and just chasing the weather from that point on."
Smith will stay with the team through at least Kansas next week, as doctors recommended that Earnhardt Jr. sit out at least two races as a result of suffering his second consecutive concussion.
"This is the classiest organization I've ever been with," Smith said. "That's not an indication of any other team I've worked with, but just the class these guys have shown me. I'm looking forward to next week. We got three days to test when we get to Kansas and we will see if we can get the AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet up front. I feel confident that we will have the same speed we had here."
It was the first engine failure of the season for the No. 88 team. Smith finished 38th.