Bristol Brings Uphill Battle For Smith

Things were looking up for Regan Smith and the No. 7 Chevrolet on Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway, as his JR Motorsports pit crew had just won him two spots on pit road during a caution period to put him in the top five with a lot of race yet to go.

But, as they often do, things looking up can lead to things looking down, sometimes in the blink of an eye. NASCAR officials called Smith for speeding on pit road during that stop, and he had to drop to the back of the lead lap for the restart. NASCAR told crew chief Jason Burdett they had clocked Smith at 35.003 miles per hour in segment four, along the backstretch pit road, which was 0.003 miles per hour faster than allowed.

On the restart, at lap 124, Smith was mired in 13th, battling heavy traffic. But the 31-year-old driver put his head down and charged, gaining a position in heavy traffic in the first two laps and reeling in 12th-place J.J. Yeley for another. As he came out of Turn 4 on lap 143, the Camaro slowed and pulled down to the apron heading to Turn 1. “I think we broke something,” Smith called on the radio. “I’ve got no power.” Burdett ordered Smith to take the car to the team hauler on the backstretch, and once he arrived, the worst was confirmed: a broken rear gear. Car chief Billy Wilburn directed the component swap, but it took 46 laps to accomplish.

Smith went back out in 33rd place, and improved three spots by the end of the 300-lap event. The mechanical failure cost Smith 25 NASCAR XFINITY Series driver points and dropped him from sixth to eighth, 47 points behind new point leader Chris Buescher after seven races.

Joey Logano led every lap of the Drive To Stop Diabetes 300 to earn the victory, and he was followed by rookie Daniel Suarez, Buescher, Texas winner Erik Jones and former point leader Ty Dillon. JRM teammates Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick finished sixth and seventh, respectively.

Regan Smith, driver No. 7 team
“I didn’t know what happened, but it wouldn’t put any power down. It would rev up, but nothing else. I guess it was a rear gear or driveline. It’s tough now, with the points. We’re going to have to be perfect for the next 26 weeks. The car was loose on the first run and then it got too tight. We had made some adjustments, but it was still tight everywhere I needed it to turn.”

Regan Smith Race Report:
Drive To Stop Diabetes 300

  Start 10th
  Finish 30th
  Laps Completed (Led) 252 of 252 (0)
  Points (Bonus) 14 (0)
  Standings (From Leader) 8th (-47)
  Condition (Status) Running