Smith, Elliott Earn Top-Five Finishes In Las Vegas

JR Motorsports | 3/7/2015

Chase Elliott Dale Earnhardt Jr. Great Clips Las Vegas NAPA News Race Report Regan Smith TaxSlayer XFINITY Series

JR Motorsports drivers Regan Smith and Chase Elliott finished third and fifth respectively in this weekend's NASCAR XFINITY race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Race 3 of 33: Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 1.5-mile tri-oval / 200 laps
Weather:  Sunny, 70 degrees
Race Winner: Austin Dillon          
Smith’s finish: 3rd
Elliott’s finish: 5th
Earnhardt Jr.’s finish: 12th

Regan Smith

The trials and tribulations for Regan Smith over the past two seasons vanished in the sunlight of Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, thanks to a solid third-place finish in the NASCAR XFINITY Series’ Boyd Gaming 300. Smith’s third-place finish was his first top-five of the season, and served notice that the 2014 series runner-up is back in the groove.

Starting seventh, Smith and crew chief Jason Burdett patiently worked to get the No. 7 Great Clips Chevrolet handling well and as the race came down to the final 40 laps, they were sitting in the top five. During a caution flag on lap 173, Burdett called Smith in for four fresh tires, and that proved to be pivotal. He had fresher tires than everyone else at the time and enough fuel to easily last the distance. On a restart with 21 laps to go, he got underneath second-place Brendan Gaughan and set sail for race-long leader Austin Dillon two laps later. Ryan Blaney, who had pitted for tires under caution six laps later, soon closed the distance and passed Smith for second with just seven laps remaining.

Dillon won the race, with Blaney second and Smith third. Denny Hamlin ran fourth and Smith’s JRM teammate, Chase Elliott, was fifth.

Regan Smith, driver No. 7 Great Clips team

“The Great Clips Chevy was really fast all day, and the guys worked hard all day and all year. I’m really excited to have Jason Burdett on top of the pit box. It was a good day for points after the hole we got into at Daytona. Mile-and-a-half tracks have been a big problem for us and we really focused hard on them. This thing drove exactly how I wanted it to. It was fun racing, and we’ll see what it brings for Phoenix.”

Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet, finished fifth in Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  It was Elliott’s second consecutive top-five finish, inching him closer to the top spot in the championship points standings.  Elliott trails leader Ty Dillon by 24 points just three races into the 2015 season.  Austin Dillon led all but 17 of the 200 laps in a dominant effort on his way to his first win of the 2015 season.

After qualifying in the eighth position, Elliott propelled his NAPA Chevrolet inside the top five by the race’s second circuit, where he would settle in for the early portion of the race.  Elliott fought an extremely loose race car for the majority of the day.  As the caution flag fell on lap 47, crew chief Ernie Cope brought Elliott in the following lap for fuel, four tires and an air pressure adjustment.  Unfortunately for Elliott, he got shuffled out of line on the following restart and fell from fifth to ninth in just one lap. 

From that point forward, the NAPA team and Elliott tweaked their Chevy Camaro each time the opportunity presented itself, with intentions of getting track position back.  Adversity played a role in Elliott’s day, and the 19-year-old Dawsonville, Ga. native found himself off the lead lap as race leader Austin Dillon moved past him on lap 143. 

Momentum shifted for Elliott on lap 161 with a caution flag.  Elliott managed to get back on the lead lap after committing to pit road before the caution flag fell, eventually putting Elliott back on the lead lap to contend with the leaders inside the top-five for the rest of the race.  Over the final 15 laps, Elliott battled door-to-door with the No. 62 of Brendan Gaughan.  Elliott would eventually prevail over Gaughan to notch his second consecutive top-five finish.

Austin Dillon bested Ryan Blaney, JR Motorsports’ Regan Smith, Denny Hamlin and Elliott to round out the top-five.

Chase Elliott, driver No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS team

“We were not where we wanted to be for this race.  Our NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevy was pretty loose for the majority of the race, and when we lost track position, it was a tough battle for us.  We are looking forward to getting back on track next weekend in Phoenix.  I am confident in my team that we’ll come prepared for next weekend’s race there.  There’s no question I’m pleased about finishing where we did today after not really having the car to compete most of the day.  Looking forward to some short track racing next weekend.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

After battling a loose handling condition all day with the No. 88 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet, Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove to a 12th-place finish in Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. His top-15 finish helped maintain the team’s top-five position in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) owners standings, trailing the leader by 13 points.

Earnhardt Jr. started sixth and ran the first 15 laps inside the top five, before making a fuel-only stop during the first caution. He radioed that the TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet Camaro was loose on entry after each restart, but still maintained position inside the top six until after a green-flag pit stop on lap 105. Crew chief Dave Elenz continued calling for chassis adjustments to the car, but Earnhardt Jr. went a lap down to the leaders on lap 152 after a continuing battle with the handling of the No. 88 Chevy.

After the final pit stop, the car seemed to improve and Earnhardt Jr. was able to make up ground, driving from 15th to 12th prior to the checkered flag.

Austin Dillon won the 200-lap event, followed by Ryan Blaney, Regan Smith, Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver No. 88 TaxSlayer.com team

“The TaxSlayer Chevy was really good at the start of the race, but as the race went on, it just continued to get looser and I was really having to fight it. That one run, we really lost a lot of time and got a lap down. We got it tightened up some on our last stop, but we weren’t able to get the lucky dog and make up any spots. It wasn’t the day we wanted, but we’ll look ahead to the next one and I know Dave (Elenz) and the team will get it figured out.”

Dave Elenz, crew chief No. 88 TaxSlayer.com team

“We just ended up missing it with the handling on our car today. We started out pretty good and I thought we were going to have a pretty good day there running in the top five. We got into those green-flag pit cycles and our car just didn’t do well. We lost a lap there and that was pretty much it. Even at the end we didn’t have the speed we needed, but it was a little bit better. We’ve got a little bit of work to do to figure out what we need to go faster."

Articles

image

XFINITY Series Schedule

  • May 23 01:00 PM ET
    Alsco 300 at CharlotteCharlotte Motor Speedway
  • May 30 01:00 PM ET
    Mid-Ohio 170Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
  • June 6 01:30 PM ET
    LTi Printing 250Michigan International Speedway
  • June 13 08:30 PM ET
    Iowa 250Iowa Speedway
  • June 20 04:00 PM ET
    Chicagoland 300Chicagoland Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After LS Tractor 200

Phoenix Raceway | 3/7/2020
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Harrison Burton #1760
2Chase Briscoe173-3
3Austin Cindric155-21
4Brandon Jones148-28
5Ross Chastain146-30
6Noah Gragson143-33
7Ryan Sieg143-33
8Justin Haley140-36
9Justin Allgaier138-38
10Michael Annett119-57