Smith Is Finally A Talladega Winner
TALLADEGA, Ala. – Regan Smith finally got his victory at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday.
With the field crashing in the tri-oval on the white flag lap of Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron’s 312, NASCAR was forced to wave the caution flag just before the leaders got to the start-finish line. With the field frozen at the time of the caution flag, it was determined that Smith was the race leader at the time of the caution.
“That was pretty cool, wasn’t it?” Smith said in victory lane.
The chaotic finish brought to a close a long day at Talladega, which started with a lingering rainstorm at the 2.66-mile superspeedway and ended in near darkness. The race started nearly four hours late as a result of that rain storm and several laps short of the full distance because of the impending darkness.
It appeared that the race was going to make the full 117-lap distance until “The Big One” struck on lap 94. Contact between Eric McClure, Sam Hornish Jr. and Johanna Long set off a massive crash entering turn three that destroyed at least 10 cars and damaged many more.
The field returned to racing on lap 100, with NASCAR announcing prior to the restart the race would end on lap 107 instead of lap 117 because of darkness. Austin Dillon, who had only recently gotten back on the lead lap after spending most of the race a lap down, was the leader when Joey Coulter crashed in the tri-oval with three laps left.
NASCAR decided after the caution came out that they would make one attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. Dillon, with a push from Parker Kligerman, jumped into the lead on the restart.
Down the backstretch things got dicey as several drivers made moves to get near the front. Coming out of turn four it looked like Joey Logano had the race won, but Smith made a daring move from the far outside lane all the way to the inside lane to move below Logano.
The two raced side-by-side as mayhem broke out behind them. Kasey Kahne, who had managed to miss the crash in the tri-oval, closed the gap fast on the lead duo and got a run on the outside. At the start-finish line Kahne looked to have beaten both Smith and Logano, but NASCAR had already waved the caution flag before the leaders made it to the stripe.
When NASCAR reviewed video of the final lap they determined that Smith was ahead of both Logano and Kahne at the time of the caution flag, giving Smith his first victory at Talladega Superspeedway.
Many will say this is Smith’s second NASCAR victory at Talladega. Smith appeared to have won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega in 2008. NASCAR took the victory away from him and gave it to Tony Stewart because Smith passed Stewart below the yellow passing line at the bottom of the track, which is against the rules.
Saturday Smith finally got a bit of redemption – and a trophy – at Talladega.