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Regan Smith Stuns The Field At Darlington

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Saturday, May 7 2011

Regan Smith won at Darlington on Saturday night. (Photo courtesy of Furniture Row Racing)

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Regan Smith got one for the NASCAR little guys when he won the Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Saturday night.

The victory was the first of Smith’s career. It was the first for his Denver-based Furniture Row Racing team. It came in one of NASCAR’s most notorious races.

“This is the Southern 500. We’re not supposed to win this thing,” a dazed Smith said over his radio.

To get it, Smith had to hold off points leader Carl Edwards on a green/white/checkered restart.

Edwards finished second, Brad Keselowski was third and polesitter Kasey Kahne was fourth.

Ryan Newman, who started on the front row, finished fifth.

Rounding out the top 10 were Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Jamie McMurray and Martin Truex Jr.

As Smith attempted to celebrate on the track, an on-track clash between Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick carried over to pit road.

The two crashed late in the race and when they came in off the track after the race, Harvick stopped his car in front of Busch. Harvick slid out of his car, moved to the driver side window of Busch’s car and threw a punch into the window.

As he did, Busch gunned his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and pushed Harvick’s car out of his way, sending the No. 29 Chevrolet into the pit wall.

Both drivers were summoned to the NASCAR hauler.

Asked what happened after emerging, Harvick said, “Things happen” and then walked away from the media.

The night started on a much more controlled note.

Kahne looked fast from the get-go but gave up the lead to Newman on the first restart of the race, which came on lap nine. Kahne got the lead back exiting the pits on the second caution of the night.

The third caution of the night came out on lap 74 and it produced another leader as McMurray opted for two tires and came out of the pits first.

McMurray’s lead lasted until a restart 13 laps later. On that restart, caused by Juan Pablo Montoya punting Jimmie Johnson, Kahne shot past to regain the lead.

Kahne held the lead until lap 115 when he was tracked down and passed by Edwards. Edwards, who had openned up a 1-plus-second lead, fell to second on pit stops during a caution which came out for debris at about lap 122.

Taking over was Busch. He held the lead – which he built to several seconds – for 78 laps. But just after the 200-lap mark, he reported a vibration and had to pit.

Edwards took over the lead, and was followed by Kevin Harvick and Kahne.

Harvick became the leader when he passed Edwards on a restart with 132 laps to go. Havrick gave the lead up during pit stops on a caution with about 90 laps to go. Taking the lead, again, was Kahne.

Kahne held the lead until there were just 25 laps left. He was then passed by Edwards who appeared head to victory.

But when a caution came out with 10 to go, it became decision time for the lead-lap cars.

Edwards, Kahne and others in the top five pitted but several drivers further back in the field stayed out.

When the green flag dropped with five to go, Smith, Brad Keselowski and Tony Stewart were in front of Edwards. Edwards moved to second on the restart lap but as he moved in on Smith, a wreck – which occurred when Busch, Harvick and Clint Bowyer got three wide where there was only room for two – brought out the yellow again.

That set up the deciding green/white/checkered restart. Edwards got to Smith’s bumber but could not make the pass. And, Smith got the victory.

(This story will be updated shortly)

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Saturday, May 7 2011
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