Regan Smith pulls last lap move for XFINITY win at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, Ohio—What a difference a week makes.

After experiencing pure frustration last weekend at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, Regan Smith answered his second road course race of the season with a bump-and-run on leader Alex Tagliani in the second-to-last corner on the last lap to score his first NASCAR XFINITY Series win of the season in Saturday’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The short-track-like move ended a 52-race winless streak for Smith driving the No. 7 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports.

“These guys work their butts off all week,” said Smith after earning his fifth career win. “This car was destroyed door tops down, they rebuilt it in one day. The guys back at the shop phenomenal job, my road guys have stuck behind me for a while. We’ve had a lot of opportunities to win. I hate to do it in the last corner, but it’s been too long, a long time, I wasn’t going to pass the opportunity up.

“I’ve been wrecked so many times on these road courses, I had to do what I had to do right there. I didn’t spin him, just got the spot. We’re going to celebrate hard tonight.”

Tagliani, who was searching for his first XFINITY Series victory in seven races, had to settle for a disappointing second after taking the lead from Smith with 15 laps remaining.

“If I knew that he was going to win like that probably instead of passing him fair and square early on in the race, I would have probably pushed him off a bit,” said Tagliani. “But, he knows I’m not going to be there next weekend to retaliate.”

In his first XFINITY Series race of the season, Tagliani scored his third career Coors Light Pole in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford and jumped to the early lead, separating himself by more than 1.2 seconds over defending race winner Chris Buescher until the first caution of the day on Lap 6 for a stalled car on the backstretch.

With pit strategy already on the minds of crew chiefs, many of the leaders elected to pit early, but Boris Said stayed out and inherited the lead for the restart. Said’s time at the front was short-lived, as he was immediately challenged on the restart by reigning XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott, who took the lead in Turn 1.

Elliott led until Lap 12 when the second caution waved for Kenny Habul. Leaders Elliott and Said pitted, with Elliott Sadler assuming the top spot briefly before Buescher grabbed control from his Roush Fenway Racing teammate.

Following the third caution of the race, Tagliani swiped the lead from Buescher in Turn 3, only to have his momentum stalled by a caution for fluid on the race track.

Tagliani maintained the race lead through the halfway point.

Under a Lap 41 yellow, the majority of the field made their final scheduled pit stop, with Smith claiming the lead after pit stops and the racing resuming with 30 laps remaining.

Despite another yellow flag for fluid on the track, the leaders elected to stay out.

Racing resumed with 20 laps to go with Smith easily escaping from the furry of furious side-by-side action behind him. Tagliani, though, quickly emerged from the pack and set his sights on Smith, setting up to reassume command on Lap 61 and set the tone for the thrilling finish.

Buescher leads Ty Dillon by 24 points in the XFINITY Series standings.

NASCAR XFINITY Series Race – Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio

               1. (7) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 75, $54536.

               2. (1) Alex Tagliani, Ford, 75, $53559.

               3. (3) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 75, $36111.

               4. (2) Chris Buescher, Ford, 75, $34901.

               5. (6) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 75, $30734.

               6. (10) Elliott Sadler, Ford, 75, $26756.

               7. (5) Brian Scott, Chevrolet, 75, $24890.

               8. (11) Darrell Wallace Jr. #, Ford, 75, $25157.

               9. (16) Dylan Lupton, Chevrolet, 75, $23878.

               10. (8) Ben Rhodes, Chevrolet, 75, $24550.

               11. (9) Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, 75, $23523.

               12. (12) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 75, $23448.

               13. (4) Boris Said, Toyota, 75, $23347.

               14. (21) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 75, $23220.

               15. (13) Justin Marks, Chevrolet, 75, $23545.

               16. (26) JJ Yeley, Toyota, 75, $23068.

               17. (14) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 75, $22967.

               18. (20) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 75, $23040.

               19. (32) Ross Chastain #, Chevrolet, 75, $22765.

               20. (24) Cale Conley #, Toyota, 75, $23213.

               21. (22) Andy Lally, Chevrolet, 75, $22638.

               22. (17) Ryan Reed, Ford, 75, $22592.

               23. (23) Dakoda Armstrong, Ford, 75, $22557.

               24. (30) Blake Koch, Toyota, 75, $22497.

               25. (36) Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, 75, $16575.

               26. (35) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 75, $22389.

               27. (25) Michael Self, Chevrolet, 75, $16354.

               28. (15) Kenny Habul, Toyota, 75, $22324.

               29. (19) Brandon Jones(i), Chevrolet, 75, $22289.

               30. (34) Tim Cowen, Ford, 72, $16543.

               31. (28) David Starr, Toyota, 69, $22198.

               32. (27) Tomy Drissi, Toyota, Accident, 68, $22152.

               33. (37) Mike Harmon, Chevrolet, 68, $16121.

               34. (18) Dylan Kwasniewski, Chevrolet, 66, $16101.

               35. (31) Eric McClure, Toyota, 60, $22063.

               36. (29) Carlos Contreras, Chevrolet, Suspension, 50, $14562.

               37. (39) Morgan Shepherd, Chevrolet, Fuel Pump, 33, $13562.

               38. (40) John Jackson, Chevrolet, Brakes, 18, $12562.

               39. (38) Josh Reaume #, Dodge, Fuel Pump, 6, $11562.

               40. (33) Jeff Green, Toyota, Vibration, 3, $10562.

Chris Knight – NASCAR Wire Service
Image: Jeff Curry/Getty Images

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