Yet here he is a year later, and not much has changed.
Smith picked up the only win of his Sprint Cup career at Darlington Raceway last May. Although he said Friday the victory was a "momentum booster," he's in dire need of another one.
Smith goes into Saturday night's race ranked 27th in points. He's got just one top-15 finish all season.
He was in a similar position last year, when he came into Darlington ranked 29th. The Darlington victory was hoped to be enough to get him moving, but he had only three top-10s after.
Now Smith says his Furniture Row Racing team has fallen behind and is struggling for answers.