Regan Smith Wins Thriller in NASCAR Nationwide Series Opener at Daytona

2014 NASCAR Media Day - Portraits“How about that for redemption from last year?”

That’s what Regan Smith exclaimed after he just beat Brad Keselowski to the finish line by thismuch in Saturday’s DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway.

Keselowski had been leading the outside line for a good portion of the last few laps of the race when he used some side drafting and moved to the lead of the race in the bottom groove after getting some “bump drafting” help from Trevor Bayne.

A caution with four laps left to go in the race due to contact and a spin between Eric McClure and Chad Boat set the field for a green-white-checkered finish. During the restart, Regan Smith was leading the outside lane and Keselowski was leading the race in the inside line when the white flag came out. Smith’s No. 7 Ragu Chevy benefitted from “bump drafting” from Trevor Bayne and it was nose-to-nose to the finish line. Smith was able to take the win away from Keselowski by .013 of a second.

Five caution flags flew throughout the race, including one to repair a pyramid of foam that became dislodged in the SAFER barrier in turn four. The big accident that usually occurs at restrictor plate races didn’t come until after the finish. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. said in a post-race interview on ESPN that he didn’t see that the drivers in front of him were slowing down so quickly and got into the back of Kyle Larson which caused several cars to wreck. Ryan Reed took the biggest hit in that incident. He wasn’t feeling well to begin with as he was suffering from the stomach flu.

One new rule released by NASCAR this season: tandem drafting is no longer allowed. A driver may “bump” the person in front but cannot linger on the bumper. James Buescher had been “bump drafting” Brad Keselowski in the middle of the race and NASCAR believed that Buescher was lingering on the bumper of Keselowski’s No. 22 and black flagged him for a pass-through penalty.

Top ten: Regan Smith, Brad Keselowski, Trevor Bayne, Kyle Busch, Elliott Sadler, Brendan Gaughan, Ty Dillon, Dylan Kwasniewski, Ryan Sieg, and Kyle Larson.

Ty Dillon was the highest finishing rookie in the race. Kyle Busch led the most laps in the race with 44.

The margin of victory (0.013) was the seventh closest all-time in the NASCAR
Nationwide Series, and second closest in series history at Daytona International Speedway.