Smith Gains Ground At Richmond

Regan Smith, Jason Burdett and the rest of the Breyers Chevrolet team got what they needed Friday night at Richmond International Raceway: a top-three finish. It could have been even better had Smith had a little more time and a little better tires.

Smith drove a heady, steady race to earn third place in the ToyotaCare 250, his third top-five and sixth top-10 finish of the season, and more importantly, jumped three spots to fifth in the season-long NASCAR XFINITY Series point standings. Over the final 112 laps, Smith made up ground on all but eventual winner Denny Hamlin and runner-up Joey Logano. Giving up third place on lap 223 to take his final set of Goodyear Eagle radials, Smith returned to the track in eighth place and started chasing.

In nine laps, he was back to third after passing JR Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott and Erik Jones, with only Logano and Hamlin ahead. He gave it his best shot over the final 17 laps, but came up short. The third-place run was salve for the wound that was Bristol a week earlier, where Smith had a fast car and ended up finishing 30th after a parts failure.

After getting caught up in a logjam behind Logano in the top lane on the opening start, Smith fell from eighth to 13th. It took 44 laps to regain his starting spot, and the yellow flag waved on lap 57, giving Burdett a chance to make changes.  They worked, as Smith built up a head of steam that saw him running laps as quick as the leader. It went that way for most of the rest of the race, until Smith took over third place and closed on Logano for second.

Hamlin led 248 of the 250 laps for the victory at his hometown track, with Logano second and Smith third. Erik Jones was fourth and Elliott rounded out the top five. JRM’s Kevin Harvick wound up 18th after a mechanical issue slowed his pace.

Regan Smith, driver No. 7 Breyers team
“I don’t think anybody had anything for Denny (Hamlin) tonight. He was fast all day long. He’s really good here, too. I felt like we had a strong third-place car tonight, and maybe with a little help from the lapped traffic, I could have gotten up to second, but it would have been a heck of a battle to get past Joey. I’m pleased with the effort, and we gained points. We’ve got to keep chipping away at it. We had a good long-run car, and Jason and the guys did a great job with it. We had a fast car, but it seemed like we were in the wrong lane for every restart.

We had one restart late in the race where we were on the bottom, and that helped a lot. The last one (restart) was a good one to have it on. We had a long-run car. The thing would get 25 laps on tires and I could count on guys coming back to me and I didn’t have to panic early in the run. That long run at the end helped us out. Where we restarted was where we ran for those 25-30 laps, and if there’d been a caution it would have been tricky.

Jason and Allen and all the guys on the 7 car have been working extremely hard all year, and it’s showing in the speed we have at every track we’ve been to. Bristol was a fluke deal, we’ll move on from that and keep trying to chip away at the points.”

Regan Smith Race Report:
ToyotaCare 250

  Start 8th
  Finish 3rd
  Laps Completed (Led) 250 of 250 (0)
  Points (Bonus) 41 (0)
  Standings (From Leader) 5th (-41)
  Condition (Status) Running