Smith Back On Track In Daytona

It was an all JR Motorsports drag race to the finish line between Regan Smith and Kasey Kahne in Friday night’s Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway. Kahne ultimately scored the victory, but it was Smith and the Goody’s team who led the most laps and took away the series points lead with their second-place effort. With the finish, Smith also qualified for the Nationwide Series “Dash 4 Cash” program next week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

From the race’s outset, Smith showcased himself as an instant contender. He patiently worked through the field before pouncing on the race lead on lap 52. All totaled, Smith held point three times for a race-high 47 laps, and was the clear-cut favorite for the win in the race’s fading laps, fending off challenges from a number of competitors for the top spot.

With the team’s final pit stop falling on lap 53, it became clear they would be pushing the edge of their fuel limits if the race stayed green. But so strong was the Goody’s Chevrolet out front that crew chief Ryan Pemberton elected to keep Smith out on the track under the race’s final two cautions, choosing to roll the dice on fuel mileage and go all in for the win.

Smith led the field to the green-white-checkered restart, skillfully keeping the pack behind him in check over the final two laps. Coming to the checkered flag, the 5 of Kahne mounted a charge on Smith’s outside. With a huge push from Ryan Sieg off the final corner, Kahne bested Smith to the checkered flag by .021 seconds.

Following Kahne, Smith and Sieg to the line were Ryan Reed and Kyle Larson.

Regan Smith, driver No. 7 Goody’s team

“It was pretty easy for me to want to push the fuel limit. It was the only play we had. You to be out front. It was real difficult to get the outside line to get any momentum and to work your way up there. Our car out front just had a lot of strength. I noticed in practice that guys couldn’t get that much of a run on us when we were up there. Out front we had all the speed we needed.

“That last restart was exactly what we needed. I came off of turn two and I cleared everybody. I did what I could do to manipulate the lanes behind me. It looked like they were getting bunched up back there and going three-wide. I figured there would be a little bit of a run coming and went up to block the 42. He went more to the middle of the racetrack, but I didn’t want to give him the option of the bottom either. In the process of getting bogged down with him, the 5 got a huge run on the outside and when we came to the line he was able to nip us there.

“It’s kind of bittersweet. I’m disappointed for the 7 team and my guys, and selfishly I’m disappointed. But for JR Motorsports, I’m happy. One-two finish is great for our team. It’s a weird mix of emotions right now.”

Regan Smith Race Report:
Subway Firecracker 250

  Start 8th
  Finish 2nd
  Laps Completed (Led) 103 of 103 (47)
  Points (Bonus) 44 (2)
  Standings (From Leader) 1st (+12)
  Condition (Status) Running