(WOMR file photo)
Regan Smith barely squeaked past “Blazingly Bad” Brad Keselowski just as they hit the finish line, and won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race, The Drive 4 COPD 300, at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday.
Keselowski finished second – .013 seconds behind – and Trevor Bayne was a very tight third!
Kyle Busch, winner of Friday night’s Truck Series race at DIS, finished fourth. Elliott Sadler was fifth.
The victory gave Smith a bit of redemption from the 2013 race. A year ago in that race, he (Smith) was leading coming out of turn #4 on the final lap, however, he ended up getting involved in a wreck, and destroying his race car. That was the wreck that removed the entire front end, forward of the firewall, of rookie Kyle “Easy Money” Larson’s Turner-Scott Motorsports Chevy, spewing pieces and parts into the grandstands, leaving the entire engine in one piece inside the catchfence, and injuring 28 spectators!
“It’s a good start to the year,” he said. “After last year, what happened at the start/finish line, I felt terrible. It’s a situation where you can’t change it. I wanted to see the checkered flag in a proper manner at Daytona and not in the middle of the wreck.”
Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. led large chunks of the first half of the race. For Dale Jr., however, a strange pit strategy put him completely out of sequence, and thus made it much more difficult to recapture his early race dominance!
About 80 laps into the 120-lap race, Smith moved to lead. He was leading from the inside lane of traffic when the race restarted after a caution with 17 laps to go. Busch was behind him and Keselowski was beside him at the front of the high line.
With 11 laps to go, Keselowski edged ahead of Smith and dropped down in front of him on the inside lane to get the lead.
With four laps to go, a wreck brought out the final caution flag.
When the race restarted, in a green/white/checkered situation, Keselowski had the lead and chose the inside lane. Next to him was Smith, immediately behind them were Busch and Bayne, respectively.
Keselowski jumped out to the lead and took the white flag first. However, with Bayne behind Brad K., Smith barely edged his Dale Earnhardt Jr.-owned Chevrolet past Keselowski at the finish line to get the victory.
“The 6 car (Bayne) certainly played a big part in us winning, with Trevor back there bump drafting,” Smith said. “He stuck with me and I don’t know how it would have worked out if he had tried to pull out and gone three-wide.”
Having been in Daytona the entire last week, I would say that the racing in all three series was the tightest, and closest finishes, that I recall seeing at Daytona in quite sometime! As a recap, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won the Daytona 500 and was the winning car owner in the Nationwide Series race, The Drive 4 COPD 300. Not a bad week for the perennial most popular driver in NASCAR!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!