Smith Rebounds For Top-10 Finish At Road America

The dark clouds that hung over picturesque Road America on Saturday seemed to find the No. 7 Chevrolet driven by Regan Smith with maddening regularity, but by the end of the Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville, Smith had brought his Chevrolet Camaro home with a top-10 finish.

With 10 laps to go and sitting in seventh spot—with a lot of cars ahead that were gambling on fuel—Smith called to crew chief Jason Burdett that the engine in the Camaro had died. A nagging electrical problem, first noticed in the opening flurry of laps, had finally gotten to the point where it ended the team’s chances for another road-course victory. Smith required a push to get the car going and had to speed from Turn 6 all the way around the 4.048-mile road course to pit lane, where the team replaced batteries, changed tires and added fuel. They sent Smith back out in 27th place with just nine laps remaining.

Absent the electrical issue, the strategy the team had employed had them no worse than fifth for the restart. The caution stayed out for clean-up and cars running out of fuel, and by the time the green waved again, there were but four laps remaining in the 45-lap event. Putting his head down, Smith charged from 25th to 14th on the first lap of green and was 12th the next time by. Coming to the white flag he was 10th, and he got past both Ty Dillon and point leader Chris Buescher on the final circuit to wind up eighth. It was his 16th top-10 finish in 23 races this season.

Hometown driver Paul Menard won the race, followed by Ryan Blaney, Brian Scott, JRM teammate Chase Elliott and Darrell Wallace Jr. Ben Rhodes, who started from the pole in the JRM No. 88, was 32nd after cutting a left front tire and pounding a tire barrier to bring out the caution with 10 to go.

While the eighth-place finish under adversity was satisfying, it wasn’t the result the team had expected. Passing Buescher and Dillon on the final lap meant Smith remained fourth in points and gained on the leader, but there were points left on the table at the end of the day. Smith sits 50 points behind Buescher with 10 races remaining.

Regan Smith, driver No. 7 team
“We gave up a victory here today with that electrical problem. The strategy we were on, we were close on fuel, just like the 33 car (eventual winner Menard) and a few others were, and we had the chance to really put a dent in the point deficit. Jason and the crew did a good job getting the battery replaced, four tires on it and gas in it, and we got back out there. There was still a chance we could get close to the front, with the different fuel strategies and the cars that were ahead of us, and we did, but it could have been another trip to Victory Lane for the TaxSlayer team. This one stings.”

Regan Smith Race Report:
Road America 180

  Start 12th
  Finish 8th
  Laps Completed (Led) 45 of 45 (0)
  Points (Bonus) 36 (0)
  Standings (From Leader) 4th (-50)
  Condition (Status) Running