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This Time, Regan Smith Can Keep The Trophy

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 8 2011

Regan Smith puts on a smoke show while his team celebrates its victory at Darlington on Saturday night. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer

Darlington, S.C. – The mystique of Darlington Raceway lived up to its reputation Saturday night as cars wrecked and tempers flared in the Showtime Southern 500.

And that was just during the final 10 laps.

Once the dust settled, a near-capacity Palmetto State crowd roared its approval for first-time Sprint Cup winner Regan Smith, whose gamble to stay out on old tires paid off after he managed to edge Carl Edwards during a green-white-checkered finish.

As Smith and his Colorado-based team celebrated in Victory Lane, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch were headed to the NASCAR hauler to discuss their late-race confrontation.

Until Saturday night, the 27-year-old Smith, a native of Cato, N.Y., was best-known for crossing the finish line first in Talladega, Ala. in 2008 only to have the victory taken away after NASCAR officials ruled he went below the yellow line on the final lap to pass Tony Stewart.

When reminded about his near-win three years ago, Smith said he preferred carrying home a trophy from historic Darlington Raceway.

“This is a lot cooler race than Talladega to win, no offense,” Smith said. “It feels a lot different at the end of the day when you say ‘hey, I won a race at Darlington.’

“The names that have won here…the Pearsons, Yarboroughs and on and on.

“I was sitting behind some of those guys today and I was thinking ‘man, these guys are pretty awesome.  They are legendary.’ I don’t know if my name deserves to be next to them, but after tonight maybe it does.”

Edwards, who paced the field for 57 laps, appeared to have the upper-hand with fresh tires on his

Regan Smith celebrates his first Sprint Cup victory. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Christa L Thomas)

Ford after lining up on the outside of Smith to begin the final two-lap run to the checkered flag.

But Smith managed to pull away from Edwards’ No. 99 once the green flag was displayed for the final time.

“When I drove down into turn three on the last lap, I sincerely planned on driving right by him but his car stuck a lot better than I thought it was going to,” Edwards said. “So it surprised me and I really thought it was going to be a drag race to the start-finish line and he stayed out front.”

As it turns out, the cushion Smith established on the first lap of the final restart was too much for Edwards to overcome.

“It stuck and I held it wide open in (turns) one and two on the first lap and tried to hold it wide open in three and four also,” said Smith, who led the final 11 laps. “The car was good when I got in clean air.”

Brad Keselowski, who chose track position over fresh tires at the end, wound up holding off pole sitter Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman to finish third.

“I saw everyone pitting and kind of figured that they would wreck on one of the restarts,” Keselowski said. “I thought that it would come down to a green-white-checkered and it did.

“We caught a good break there. There are no guarantees that it will happen. I was able to hold off

Meanwhile, back in the pits, the boys on the crew of Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch had at it. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

(Kahne) and everybody but (Edwards) at the end.”

Smith said he’s not concerned that his victory will likely be overshadowed by the Harvick-Busch feud, which will be the talk in the sport as it heads to Dover, Del. next weekend.

His lone concern early Sunday morning seemed to be where he’ll place his winning trophy.

“It’s going to sit right where I have to walk by it every single time I get up in the morning,” Smith said. “It’s going to go some place where I don’t miss it all, maybe on the center coffee table in the living room or something.

“And I definitely won’t go to bed tonight thinking about Talladega, that’s for sure.”

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 8 2011


  • Chris Maturkanich says:

    So he won with Hendrick’s car and Stewart’s crew. And Lord Bill still hasn’t changed his mind about having a poor nobody from new york of all places actually winning a real race. Maybe he’ll do it at the banquet. After the race, he should have not even taken a victory lap and gone straight back to the trailer. Leave those bums with nothing to report. The next day, he could tell everyone he was waiting for a “conclusive ruling to avoid embarrassing himself, his team and his sponsor” Let them chew on that.

  • Maggie says:

    EVERY channel and EVERY show producers seem to think that EVERYBODY in the world wants to see confrontation EVERYWHERE. Fox may not be perfect, but they sure beat out ESPN. Not that any of it matters to the millions of people in western Canada who will not be able to see anything about NASCAR after the Fox coverage is finished. ESPN and our cable providers have decreed that NASCAR coverage is a cash cow to further bloat their bottom lines. Not our cash this time. Never again.

  • Mr. Tony Geinzer says:

    I wish NASCAR could come to their senses and have better broadcasters and TV Coverage because I am feeling the fans will have a hand in the Next Media Round.

  • John in NC says:

    Great to see Regan Smith win his first race for a hard working one car team west of the Mississippi. Too bad Fox broadcasters has to spend so much camera time following Dumb and Dumber as they tried to fight, not fight instead of keeping the focus on Smith and his team’s victory. Smith is a clean driver who deserved better coverage all night from the Fox broadcast booth.