Smith Leaves Richmond With Top-10

With 25 laps remaining in Friday night’s Virginia529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway, Regan Smith sat second in the TaxSlayer Bowl Chevrolet, with only JRM teammate Chase Elliott between him and Victory Lane. As the green flag waved on the final restart, Smith took off at the head of the inside lane and gave it a mighty shot, but at the checkered flag, he wound up a disappointed sixth.

Smith had pitted from third place to set up the 25-lap sprint, and a blazing 11.45-second pit stop got him out second behind Elliott. When the green waved, however, he found himself under immediate assault from Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Erik Jones. Over the next several laps, Smith had fallen to sixth place, where he stayed the rest of the way.

Prior to that, Smith was one of the fastest cars on the track over the long run. As other drivers burned their tires off and slowed down, Smith kept clicking off solid laps. He took the lead for the first time on lap 144 and held it through lap 163, a span of 20 laps, when crew chief Jason Burdett called him to pit road for a set of four tires and gas to the finish. He rejoined the race in third place, behind Ross Chastain, who stayed out, and Elliott.

When the green flag waved, both Elliott and Smith made short work of Chastain and ran 1-2 until the final caution of the night waved on lap 217 for an accident in Turn 3. Diving down pit road for his last set of sticker Goodyear tires, Smith emerged in second place behind Elliott, ready for the run to the checkered flag. With less than 25 laps remaining, it was a traffic jam at the front, and Smith’s car was too loose to hold the horde at arm’s length. He finished a strong sixth, his 18th top-10 finish in 25 starts. That result shaved five points off Chris Buescher’s lead in the standings, and Smith is fourth, 49 points out of the lead, with eight races remaining.

Starting fourth, Smith stayed in the top five during the early stages and fell as low as seventh before the first pit stop, which came on lap 50. Burdett called for four tires and made a track-bar adjustment to help the loose condition Smith had both entering and exiting the corners. A long green-flag run lay ahead, and by lap 89, the TaxSlayer Bowl Chevy came to life. He passed Ty Dillon for fifth on that lap and kept digging until he got the lead on lap 144.

Elliott won the race, his first victory of 2015, followed by Kyle Busch, Brian Scott, Joey Logano and Jones. Smith was sixth ahead of JRM teammate Josh Berry in seventh.

Regan Smith, driver No. 7 TaxSlayer Bowl team
“We had a good run in the TaxSlayer Bowl Chevrolet tonight, but at the end, we were too loose to hold our position. We had a fast Camaro tonight, and we expected the track to tighten up a little bit over the last 25 laps or so. It didn’t tighten up enough. We gained on the leader tonight, JRM went to Victory Lane and we ran well, led laps. About the only thing we didn’t do was win the race. We cut into the point lead, and we had speed in the car all night. We still have eight races to trim more points off, and we will do everything we can to get that done.”

Regan Smith Race Report:
Virginia 529 College Savings 250

  Start 4th
  Finish 6th
  Laps Completed (Led) 250 of 250 (20)
  Points (Bonus) 39 (1)
  Standings (From Leader) 4th (-49)
  Condition (Status) Running