Smith Keeps Pressure On With Top-5 In Charlotte

For much of Friday’s Drive for the Cure 300 for the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Regan Smith was simply holding on. His Dale’s Pale Chevrolet was not handling well, and in portions of the race, he was just trying to keep it under him. All that changed with a single pit stop on lap 143.

Crew chief Jason Burdett called for four tires and fuel and dialed up adjustments that cured the bright blue Camaro’s worst tendencies, and the Dale’s Pale Ale pit crew cranked it all out in a blistering 10.97 seconds to put Smith eighth in the restart lineup with a chance to make up points on the two cars in front of him for the inaugural NXS series title.

Another caution followed soon after that one, this one involving JRM teammate Kasey Kahne and race-long leader Kyle Busch on lap 152, and Burdett called for Smith to stay out. On the ensuing restart, Smith was able to crack the top five and hold it for the final 43 laps for his 10th top-five and 22nd top-10 finish of the season. More importantly, it shaved another two points off the deficit to point leader Chris Buescher and nearly halved the deficit to second-place Chase Elliott with four races remaining.

In the early portions of the race, Smith was too tight in the middle at both ends of the 1.5-mile D-shaped oval, and loose off the corners. Smith hung onto it for 50 laps, then brought it to Burdett’s attention. The team removed a spring rubber and made a track-bar adjustment that helped, but the car went wicked loose as a result. Despite that, Smith gained positions on the track from 16th to 11th. It was still a handful, so on the next stop at lap 101, Burdett went into the crew-chief bag for more adjustments. That calmed the loose condition down, but the front end didn’t respond and Smith was holding on again.

That set up the stop on lap 141 which put the Dale’s Pale Ale Camaro in a much better position, and Smith got past both title rival Ty Dillon and point leader Buescher on the restart. He held sway over the final green-flag run to the checkered for the top-five finish.

Austin Dillon won the race, followed by Erik Jones, Brad Keselowski, Daniel Suarez and Smith.

Regan Smith, driver No. 7 Dale’s Pale Ale team
“We battled hard all night long. We’re happy with fifth place, but we wanted more than that. We’re pretty determined as a race team right now. Jason [crew chief Jason Burdett] and Allen [engineer Allen Hart] worked their butts off on the box tonight. We weren’t very good at the beginning, and if you’d have told me we were going to finish fifth, I’d probably have hugged you and jumped up and down. To be disappointed with fifth is good. The car was a handful at the beginning. We were extremely tight and bouncing all over the race track. I don’t even know all the things they did to it, but whatever they did on the last stop got it close to right, and if you’re going to get it close to right, you might as well do it at the end so you can make up as much as you can. Two points at a time isn’t going to get it done for us, but we have to keep the pressure on. We have to keep working hard. I wanted to win another one tonight so I could drink some Dale’s Pale Ale, since they were on the car tonight. We’ll have to skip that tonight and save it for another one.”

Regan Smith Race Report:
Drive For The Cure 300

  Start 12th
  Finish 5th
  Laps Completed (Led) 200 of 200 (0)
  Points (Bonus) 39 (0)
  Standings (From Leader) 3rd (-34)
  Condition (Status) Running