2012 season in the rear view: Regan Smith

Vitals: 24th in the points standings. 0 wins, 1 top 5, 4 top 10s. 4 DNFs.

Moment to remember: After Dale Earnhardt Jr. was sidelined for two races after suffering a concussion at Talladega, Regan Smith was summoned into the driver's seat of the No. 88 and performed admirably, even though it's not reflected in the final results of his first race replacing Junior.

Smith finished 38th at Charlotte after blowing an engine just 61 laps into the race, but the following week at Kansas he finished 7th after bobbling on his qualifying lap and qualifying 39th. Not bad for a guy that had parted ways with his team the week before Charlotte.

(In his final race for Furniture Row Racing before being replaced by Kurt Busch, Smith finished fifth.)

Moment to forget: Smith underwent a horrid stretch of five races in the summer from Michigan to Loudon where he didn't finish higher than 26th and finished below 30th three times and dropped two places in the points standings.

The wrap: Smith and Furniture Row didn't take a huge leap forward in 2012 after a surprise win at Darlington in 2011 but despite missing two races, Smith actually finished two spots higher in the driver's standings in 2012. Those two missed races came after he replaced Junior, as Phoenix Racing kept AJ Allmendinger (the replacement to Smith's replacement of Kurt Busch) in the car for Martinsville and Texas before Smith drove the final two races of the season. But that performance and connection with Dale Earnhardt Jr. came in handy. Smith will run for the Nationwide Series championship in 2013 for JR Motorsports, and he'll be one of the favorites after winning the final race of the season.

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