Smith Still Looking For More After Chicagoland Top-10

Regan Smith battled hard all night long Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway and came away with his 19th top-10 finish in 26 races.  In the last two laps, Smith pushed past both Brendan Gaughan and saw a top-five car pit to get him inside the top 10. The 19 top-10 finishes is second only to JRM teammate Chase Elliott’s 20 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series this season.

Rolling off from the ninth spot on the initial start, Smith gained a spot and held it until the first caution flag. Despite the solid performance, the handling on the No. 7 TaxSlayer Bowl Chevrolet vacillated between loose at the start and tight at the end of a run, and Smith rode the roller-coaster all evening.

The first pit stop of the day vaulted Smith to the top five, thanks to an 11.43-second pit stop for four tires, Sunoco racing fuel and a chassis adjustment. As the run progressed, the car tightened up and Smith tapped the wall with the right side of the TaxSlayer Bowl Camaro, with no significant damage.

He dropped to eighth in that run, and benefitted from a pair of stops on laps 72 and 87 to further massage the handling. Despite getting four tires on the first stop and another chassis adjustment, the car was too loose entering the corners on the 1.5-mile oval and getting looser on exit.

By lap 134, when another caution waved, Smith had a chance to come to pit road for tires and adjustments, and he left pit road in fifth spot. He stayed there and the car showed signs of life, with the changes fixing his entry issues. The caution waved again on lap 142, and crew chief Jason Burdett started making strategic moves. On lap 144, Smith gave up position to come to pit road for fuel only, as fuel mileage was becoming an issue. Burdett also called for Smith to save every drop of fuel he could.

Over the final 56 laps, Smith fell as far back as 12th while conserving fuel, and came up big in the final two laps by gaining two spots to finish in the top 10. After two straight weeks of gains on the point leader, the fourth-place Smith dropped two points at Chicagoland to trail by 51 points with seven races remaining. Another 1.5-mile oval, Kentucky Speedway, awaits next week.

Kyle Busch won the race, followed by Matt Kenseth, Darrell Wallace Jr., Paul Menard and Ty Dillon. Smith was ninth, while JRM teammates Kasey Kahne (12th) and Chase Elliott (14th) earned top-15 finishes.

Regan Smith, driver No. 7 TaxSlayer Bowl team
“It was a top-10 finish, and that’s good, but it’s not going to gain the kind of points we need to gain. The car had speed at times, but was just inconsistent in the way it responded to the changes Jason made to it. We had a good strategy, counting on a longer run and fuel mileage to get us higher in the order, and it worked to get us back in the top 10 there at the end. We just have to score every available point from here on out to close the gap between us and the point leader.”

Regan Smith Race Report:
Furious 7 300

  Start 9th
  Finish 9th
  Laps Completed (Led) 200 of 200 (0)
  Points (Bonus) 35 (0)
  Standings (From Leader) 4th (-51)
  Condition (Status) Running