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Regan Smith To Drive 41 At Atlanta

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, February 23 2015

Regan Smith will get a second start in the No. 41 car at Atlanta. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Rusty Jarrett)

Regan Smith will make a second consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start as replacement driver for the suspended Kurt Busch in the Folds of Honor 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 1, Stewart-Haas Racing announced Monday.

Smith will return to the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS during an open test session at AMS on Thursday. Sunday’s race will be Smith’s seventh Sprint Cup start at AMS. His most recent series start on the 1.54-mile quadoval in Hampton, Ga., was on Sept. 2, 2012, when he finished 14th.

Smith drove the No. 41 car co-owned by three-time Cup champion Tony Stewart and businessman Gene Haas to a 16th-place finish Sunday in the season-opening 57th annual Daytona 500. The 2008 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year, Smith had one practice session on the high-banked, 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway Saturday to get adjusted to the car. His laps were limited to single-car runs, as crew chief Tony Gibson did not want to risk damaging the car before the “Great American Race.”

“We started off really tight with the race car and never got it turning,” Smith said post-race. “I don’t know, kind of frustrating. I actually anticipated a much better day (Sunday) and had nothing much more to show for it. Those guys did a nice job all weekend but we just plowed through the corners.”

An interim driver for the No. 41 team on the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway and subsequent races has not been determined by SHR management.

Smith already had logged some history with Stewart-Haas Racing prior to his start at DIS. Smith subbed for Stewart in the team’s No. 14 Chevy last August on the road-course at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International a day after Stewart was involved in a fatal accident during a Saturday night dirt track event in Canandaigua, N.Y.

A 31-year-old native of Cato, N.Y., Smith won the 2011 Sprint Cup Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. He is a fulltime driver in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and finished second in the 2014 championship standings. Smith crashed-and-flipped out of Saturday’s season-opening 34th annual NASCAR XFINITY Alert Today Florida 300 en route to a 35th-place finish.

NASCAR slapped Busch with the indefinite suspension Friday afternoon in the aftermath of a Delaware family court’s finding earlier in the day that “by a preponderance of the evidence” the 36-year-old driver had “committed an act of domestic violence” against former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll on Sept. 24 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Following NASCAR’s announcement, Chevrolet also suspended its involvement with Busch.

Busch subsequently lost a pair of appeal procedures Saturday in Daytona Beach, Fla. Bryan Moss, the National Motorsports final appeals officer, heard and considered Busch’s appeal concerning Section 12.1.a: Actions detrimental to stock car racing; 12.8: Behavioral penalty as per the NASCAR Rulebook and upheld NASCAR’s original penalty ruling.

Moss’ ruling was final and binding on all parties. Busch, the 2004 Cup champion while at Roush Fenway Racing, has exhausted his appeal options under the NASCAR Rulebook and will not be allowed to race or participate in any NASCAR-sanctioned activities until further notice.

Busch has not been charged criminally. The Delaware Attorney General’s Office, which has overseen the case since early December, has not decided whether or not Busch will be charged.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, February 23 2015
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