Smith Starts Season Off Right with Daytona Victory

Photo- Getty Images
Photo- Getty Images

A somewhat surprising outcome to the Drive4COPD 300 featured the outside lane pushing Regan Smith to victory. All day, the outside lane struggled to keep up with the inside lane. The final restart changed all of that though as Smith was able to stay door-to-door with Brad Keselowski on the inside lane. Smith’s win was the first for a Nationwide regular in the season opener since 2001 when Randy LaJoie took the checkered flag.

If you were to say Regan Smith would have ended up in victory lane at the beginning of the race, you would have encountered weird looks. Smith was not a contender early. It wasn’t until a little bit past the halfway point when he was able make it to the front.

Kyle Busch seemed to be the favorite early as he led for a majority of the race. When Smith took the lead on Lap 76, it was from Busch. Smith and Keselowski seemed to be the only two drivers who were able to keep Busch away from the top spot.

Keselowski worked his way to the front with 11 laps to go and he held the lead up until the final few feet before the start/finish line.

On the final restart, it was a drag race between Regan Smith and Brad Keselowski. They matched each other run for run around the track. With drafting help from behind coming to the checkered flag, Smith was able to get a nose in front of the No.22 car and take the victory.

The action didn’t end at the checkered flag, however. As cars began their cool down lap, not everyone slowed at the same rate. When Kyle Larson braked quickly, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran into the back of him, turning the No.42 car into the pack. Joe Nemechek and Ryan Reed suffered the worst damage as when Nemechek spun up the track, Reed plowed into the back of him.

Other drivers involved included James Buescher, Landon Cassill, Ryan Sieg and Brian Scott. Earnhardt Jr. said in an interview with ESPN that he would help Nemechek out with the damage to his car since he caused the incident.

This was Regan Smith’s third victory in the Nationwide Series over the past two seasons and his first since Michigan last June. Smith was a threat early in the championship chase last season, but he couldn’t stay consistent enough to take the title. He will try to take this early momentum and put it to good use this year in his second attempt at a Nationwide Series title.

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Results via ESPN.com

POS DRIVER CAR MANUFACTURER LAPS MONEY START LED PTS BONUS PENALTY
1 Regan Smith Chevrolet 121 19 34 47 4 0
2 Brad Keselowski Ford 121 17 12 0 0 0
3 Trevor Bayne Ford 121 31 0 41 0 0
4 Kyle Busch Toyota 121 4 43 0 0 0
5 Elliott Sadler 11 Toyota 121 5 0 39 0 0
6 Brendan Gaughan 62 Chevrolet 121 27 0 38 0 0
7 Ty Dillon Chevrolet 121 23 1 38 1 0
8 Dylan Kwasniewski Chevrolet 121 1 0 36 0 0
9 Ryan Sieg 39 Chevrolet 121 29 0 0 0 0
10 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 121 2 1 0 0 0
11 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 121 16 28 0 0 0
12 Joe Nemechek Toyota 121 24 0 32 0 0
13 Matt Kenseth Toyota 121 6 0 0 0 0
14 Mike Wallace 28 Dodge 121 25 0 30 0 0
15 Chase Elliott 9 Chevrolet 121 26 0 29 0 0
16 James Buescher Toyota 121 14 0 28 0 0
17 Brian Scott Chevrolet 121 20 0 27 0 0
18 Ryan Reed Ford 121 39 0 26 0 0
19 Danica Patrick Chevrolet 121 3 0 0 0 0
20 Mike Bliss Toyota 121 12 0 24 0 0
21 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 121 34 0 0 0 0
22 Blake Koch Toyota 121 11 0 22 0 0
23 Dakoda Armstrong Ford 121 30 0 21 0 0
24 Chad Boat 84 Chevrolet 121 40 0 20 0 0
25 David Starr Toyota 121 10 0 19 0 0
26 Scott Lagasse Jr. 29 Toyota 121 22 0 18 0 0
27 Jamie Dick Chevrolet 121 7 2 18 1 0
28 Johnny Sauter 80 Toyota 120 9 0 0 0 0
29 Jeremy Clements Chevrolet 120 33 0 15 0 0
30 Jeffrey Earnhardt Chevrolet 120 37 0 0 0 0
31 Jason White Toyota 119 28 0 13 0 0
32 Joey Gase Chevrolet 118 36 0 0 0 0
33 Bobby Gerhart Chevrolet 118 18 0 11 0 0
34 Mike Harmon Dodge 117 38 0 10 0 0
35 Eric McClure Toyota 115 13 0 9 0 0
36 Josh Wise Chevrolet 114 32 0 0 0 0
37 Derrike Cope Chevrolet 113 35 0 7 0 0
38 Robert Richardson Jr. Chevrolet 12 21 0 6 0 0
39 Harrison Rhodes Toyota 8 15 0 5 0 0
40 Jeff Green 91 Toyota 3 8 0 4 0 0
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