Watkins Glen A Battleground For Smith

Regan Smith and the No. 7 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet team had high hopes of a high finish on Saturday in the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International, only to see those hopes go up in a cloud of tire smoke and frustration.

Running third on a restart on the 39th of 82 laps, Smith got punted from behind by Ty Dillon, who had run down the inside into the 90-degree Turn 1 and powered through the right rear fender of Smith’s bright red No. 7. Smith got it pointed the right way and back under way, but not until he’d lost 26 spots.

The race became a battle to survive on the lead lap until the final pit stop, and Smith did so, nearly climbing back to the top 10 before the caution waved on lap 57. After getting tires and fuel, he rejoined the race in 12th spot, prepared to salvage what had been an up-and-down day.

That chance ended on lap 67, when Smith was alongside Brendan Gaughan at the exit of Turn 5. Gaughan kept coming, door-slamming Smith’s car and sending it into the powder-blue Armco barrier at the exit. The impact tore the front splitter off Smith’s car and did a lot more damage to all four corners.

From there, it was a battle to stay on the lead lap and salvage as many points as possible. He finished 20th, on the lead lap, in a car with no front splitter—it was lodged under the fence in Turn 5. What started out as an optimistic day at his hometown track ended up with Smith giving back all 27 points he had gained the past four races to point leader Chris Buescher, who finished third. Smith entered the race a mere 39 points in arrears and left New York ailing by 57, still in fourth place in the standings.

Joey Logano won the race, followed by Brad Keselowski, Buescher, Boris Said and Dillon.

Regan Smith, driver No. 7 TaxSlayer.com team
“We had a good car, good strategy and a chance to make a move in the points, but that all went away in Turn 1 when I got spun. We still had a chance to make something out of the day, a top-10 at least, but another car from the same team just turned right and hit me so hard I spun. I said before this race that this four-race stretch of road courses and Bristol could change this championship battle, and it did that. We were racing hard and wound up 20th. We will go to Mid-Ohio with the same plan we came here with, and start all over again.”

Regan Smith Race Report:
Zippo 200

  Start 8th
  Finish 20th
  Laps Completed (Led) 82 of 82 (0)
  Points (Bonus) 24 (0)
  Standings (From Leader) 4th (-57)
  Condition (Status) Running