Finch closing on Cup lineup for 2013

Phoenix Racing team owner James Finch is close to settling on his lineup for 2013.

Phoenix Racing team owner James Finch is close to settling on his lineup for 2013.

Finch said Thursday that Regan Smith will run the Daytona 500 in the No. 51 Chevrolet. But with Smith concentrating on his new gig with JR Motorsports, there will be an opportunity for AJ Allmendinger as well.

“Regan will go to Daytona for us, but I want to help AJ run some races, too,” Finch said. “We’re still working on the final schedule, but AJ will probably run Phoenix (International Raceway on March 3) for us.”

Smith finished 24th in the 2012 Sprint Cup points standings. He ended a four-year stint with Furniture Row Racing with a top-five finish at Talladega Superspeedway in October before being replaced by Kurt Busch for the final six races of the season. Smith won his first Cup victory with the No. 78 team at Darlington Raceway in 2011.

Smith subbed for a sidelined Dale Earnhardt Jr. for Hendrick Motorsports in the No. 88 car for two races this past season and posted a seventh-place finish at Kansas Speedway. He finished the 2012 season with Finch at Phoenix and Homestead Miami Speedway.

Allmendinger made his comeback with Phoenix Racing in October at Charlotte after completing NASCAR’s “Road to Recovery” program for violating the sport’s substance-abuse policy. His top result with the team was 24th in that race.

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