Regan Smith Prevails in Thrilling Aaron’s 312
TALLADEGA, AL –It was almost impossible to tell who won Saturday’s Aaron’s 312 Nationwide Series race, and that had nothing to do with the impending darkness at Talladega Superspeedway. Instead, it was because the race ended in a three-wide dash toward the finish line, with the cars separated by mere inches. It took several minutes after the checkered flag flew before NASCAR officials were able to declare that Regan Smith had barely nipped Joey Logano for the victory, with Kasey Kahne coming in a close third.
“That was pretty cool, wasn’t it,” said Smith, who won for the first time this season for the JR Motorsports team, and also took over the Nationwide points lead. “I’m really pumped up.”
Smith was in seventh place entering the final lap and admitted he didn’t like his chances heading down the backstretch. But with drafting help from Kahne, Smith was able to catch up to the leaders in Turn 4, and then grabbed the lead in the trioval by quickly cutting through traffic to move from the top of the track to the bottom, where he was able to outrace Logano and Kahne.
“First and foremost, we don’t do it without Kasey back there pushing. So I have to thank him. He stuck with me,” Smith said. “Coming down the backstretch I thought, ‘Ah, we’re going to take fifth or sixth.’ I thought that’s the way it was going to go. I can’t even tell you the order of the guys who were leading. I just saw cars at that point. They got all jammed up, we had a run and I made a move. I wasn’t really sure if I was clear, but I figured it was the only chance I had to win the race. I wanted to make that move to see if it was going to pay off for us, and it did.”
Logano, who has now finished in the top-3 in all five of his Nationwide Series starts at Talladega Superspeedway, appeared to have the lead coming out of Turn 4 and nearly was able to hold on for his second consecutive Nationwide victory at the track.
“I was racing as hard as I could for the win,” Logano said. “It’s so frustrating when you’re so close and you think you got it. I was just trying to stop everybody from going around me, and unfortunately, one got by.”
Kurt Busch finished fourth, followed by Justin Allgaier in fifth, Parker Kligerman sixth, Mike Wallace seventh, Jason White eighth and Jeremy Clements ninth. Austin Dillon, who was in the lead at the beginning of the green-white-checkered finish – got shuffled all the way back 10th-place in the wild scramble at the end.