Smith Cruises To Michigan Win

Regan Smith continued his strong start to 2013 with his second victory of the season in the Alliance Truck Parts 250 at Michigan International Speedway. Smith seized control of the race when Parker Kligerman hit pit road at lap 112 and outdueled Kyle Larson over the race’s final 14 laps for the win.

Smith’s race began taking shape when crew chief Greg Ives elected to keep Smith on the track during a caution at lap 65. The move propelled Smith from seventh to second where he remained until a caution at lap 80 brought teams to pit road for the final time. For Smith and his No. 7 team, the lap-80 caution was a great break as they planned to hit pit road that lap for a green-flag stop. The good fortune allowed Smith to pit for the final time under yellow and begin his charge to the front.

Smith restarted sixth with 23 laps remaining and began his assault on the lead cars, navigating his way to second when Kligerman hit pit road for fuel on lap 112. Larson chased Smith to the checkered flag, inching closer and closer to the No. 7 car in the final laps but was unable to make the pass as Smith cruised to the victory. The victory improves his lead in the NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers’ standings to 58-points over Sam Hornish Jr.

Regan Smith, driver No. 7 Chevrolet

“We worked hard on this car all week. It was tight yesterday in practice. We made some changes to fix it up and it got good at the end of practice. I’ll be honest, after qualifying (20th), I was worried. I was scared to death. Before the race, I was nervous about what we were going to have. We weren’t trimmed out like some of these guys were. We wanted to be able to race our car and drive our car to the front so it was able to do that.

“The Chevy was great today. I couldn’t be more proud of Greg Ives. He made a pit call about halfway through the race that got us the track position and won us the race. I’m happy for him. This win’s for him.

“I also want to say all of our hearts are with the Leffler family right now and (we’re) thinking about those guys. We’re going to donate a good portion of our winnings to Charlie Dean’s fund.”

Greg Ives, crew chief No. 7 Chevrolet

“It was kind of a frustrating weekend actually. Coming in, we knew the tires weren’t going to fall off a lot so I kind of had some plans to try to get better. We’ve been just trying to build a notebook and try to get a little bit better each week. We came here with a different package than normal and it didn’t really work out very well for us. We struggled with speed and Regan wasn’t very happy with the car. We kind of had to, after three or four runs (during practice), we kind of made the changes and the road guys did a great job getting the car set up properly. We went back out and picked up our lap times. From that point on, you could kind of feel the tempo of the guys pick up. You could feel Regan’s confidence in the race car pick up and that was kind of the key moment to the week for us. It’s just all about confidence in the race car.

“If you look back at the pit call we made to try to get him on the front row as we’ve been trying to do each week, whether by qualifying or not. I think he got the confidence in the race car that ‘Hey, this thing is really fast, and I can trust it, and I have the ability to do what I need to do with it.’ I think it’s just all the guys coming together building confidence in each other. No matter what hole we dig ourselves into, no matter how down we can get, no matter if we’re lacking speed and qualify 20th. Stuff like that, we don’t get flustered and we realize that this is an opportunity for us to show our strength as a race team and eventually an organization in JR Motorsports.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., owner No. 7 Chevrolet

“Regan set pretty high standards back at Homestead when we won that race at the last race of the season last year so we’ve been looking forward to working together and looking forward to having the success we’ve been having so far. This is really rewarding and fun but there’s a lot of hard work behind the scenes. I’m happy for Regan. He certainly has earned it. He’s worked really hard to get to where he is and Greg has definitely put in a lifetime of work to get to where he is. It’s good to see all of this working out for them.

“I’m happy for TaxSlayer and to be able to get them to victory lane a couple times this year. Hopefully we’ll have opportunities to take them to victory lane more this season. That was long overdue for them as well. It’s just a big thrill for me and my sister (Kelley Earnhardt Miller) and Rick (Hendrick) to see the success we’re having. I think something that we’ve got to remember too, I was in victory lane and saw Doug Duchardt; him and Steve Letarte had a lot to do with the behind-the-scenes changes we made in the offseason to help us get guided in a newer and better direction. Certainly bringing on the pieces to the puzzle like Greg and the drivers and everybody else that kind of changed the culture in the shop was a big deal but Doug and Steve kind of put a lot of extra work in. It wasn’t really required of them. They stepped up to the plate to help and we made a lot of good changes that have got us in a really good position right now.

“Hopefully we can good success throughout the rest of the year and continue to learn. This team is getting to the point where, some of the stuff we’re doing and the success we’re having, will become an asset to what Hendrick (Motorsports) does on Sundays. That’s the biggest thing that we really need to try to accomplish is where the information is going both ways. That will really be a great thing when we can help them as much as they’ve helped us.”

Regan Smith Race Report:
Alliance Truck Parts 250

  Start 20th
  Finish 1st
  Laps Completed (Led) 125 of 125 (14)
  Points (Bonus) 47 (4)
  Standings (From Leader) 1st (+58)
  Condition (Status) Running