Smith Produces Runner-Up Finish at Iowa

JR Motorsports | 8/2/2015

Alpha Energy Solutions Ben Rhodes Chase Elliott Fire Alarm Services Iowa NAPA News Race Report Regan Smith XFINITY Series

Regan Smith earned a runner-up finish Saturday night at Iowa Speedway as Smith and teammate Chase Elliott made up ground in the points race.

Race 19 of 33: U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway

Track Specs: .875-mile oval / 250 laps                                                                         

Weather: Clear; 79 degrees

Race Winner: Ryan Blaney           

Smith’s finish: 2nd

Elliott’s finish: 9th

Rhodes’ finish: 30th

Regan Smith

Regan Smith muscled his way to a runner-up finish in Saturday night’s U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway.  Smith steered the No. 7 Fire Alarm Services Chevrolet through a string of late-race restarts and secured his season-best effort and sixth top-five finish of 2015. 

From the drop of the green flag, Smith began a steady march forward and found fifth by the race’s quarter mark.  With a caution flying on lap 76, Smith brought the No. 7 to pit road for a routine pit stop.  Quick work by the pit crew gained him three spots and he lined up in second for the ensuing restart. 

Smith leveraged the solid track position to cement himself in the top three until the race’s second caution, when another solid pit stop gave him the lead.  Once back up to speed, Smith held point for four laps and then settled into third at lap 200.

Over the final 20 laps, four caution flags slowed the field, bunching the field up for a series of white-knuckle restarts.  Smith utilized the opportunity to climb from third to second and then set his sights on leader Ryan Blaney.  Smith pressured Blaney for the lead on the final lap but was unable to make the pass and took the checkered flag in second.  The finish stands as Smith’s best at Iowa Speedway.

Following Blaney and Smith to the line were Brian Scott, Ty Dillon and Brendan Gaughan.

Regan Smith, driver No. 7 Fire Alarm Services team

“I was pretty happy with the Fire Alarm Chevy tonight. Our pit crew did an absolutely phenomenal job on pit road. They got us positions every stop. They were rock stars tonight. It really came down to those last two restarts. I knew Brendan (Gaughan) was going to take a shot at the lead and when he did I knew I needed to back off and be on the bottom to try and clear them. I really wanted to get the win tonight. We gave it our best shot, just came up a bit short. Big thanks to all the guys this weekend. They put in a lot of work and we’re starting to get this year turned around. Now is certainly the time. We’ll just keep at it and I think the wins will come.” 

Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet, finished ninth in Saturday’s U.S. Cellular 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) race at Iowa Speedway.  Elliott marched closer in the championship race for the third consecutive weekend, picking up five points on leader Chris Buescher.  With 14 races left in 2015 NXS season, Elliott who’s in sole possession of second place in the championship standings, sits just 20 markers behind Buescher.  Ryan Blaney led three times for a race-high 252 laps on his way to capture his third career NXS victory.

A 75-lap green-flag run opened up an eventful evening for Elliott, who qualified 12th earlier in the day.  The 19-year-old managed to move forward by the time the first caution flag fell.  Crew chief Ernie Cope brought Elliott in for fuel and four tires, as well as an air pressure adjustment, to help him fire off quicker since he was having issues moving forward during the race’s initial run.  The NAPA crew did an exceptional job picking up three spots on pit road for Elliott who restarted eighth on the ensuing lap-82 restart.

The race’s first half was dominated by two long green-flag runs, which Elliott found beneficial as the sun set on Iowa and his NAPA Chevy came into form.  Although Elliott was riding in the seventh position towards the end of the second green-flag run, his lap times were equal to the leaders.  The lightning fast pit stops continued during Elliott’s second time on pit road, as the NAPA crew again picked up three spots for Elliott.  He restarted in the fourth position with 100 laps to go.

Unfortunately for Elliott his night would slide south during a critical late-race stop on lap 205.  The NAPA team took two tires, which hurt Elliott’s grip and eventually sent him backwards as the race wound down.  With 20 laps to go, Elliott was involved in a wreck with the No. 33 car.  The NAPA crew managed to keep Elliott on the lead lap while repairing the bumper of his Camaro.  Elliott would restart 17th with 14 laps to go and prove his fight was not over yet.  Elliott restarted ninth during a second attempt at a green-white-checkered and managed to hold his position for a hard-fought and series-leading 15th top-10 finish. 

Blaney outdueled Regan Smith, Brian Scott, Ty Dillon and Brendan Gaughan en route to his first NXS victory in 2015.

Chase Elliott, driver No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS team

“Well, tonight was a bit of an up-and-down performance for us.  We had our struggles this weekend, but I thought our NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet came to life late, once the sun went down and we had some solid chances.  My pit crew was absolutely unbelievable and that’s what we have to have week in and week out.  They were awesome tonight.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t hold the lead late in the race and ended up getting caught up in a wreck late in the race.  We fought back and made what could’ve been a poor finish into a top-10 by fixing the damage the best we could and staying on the lead lap.  Although we gained on Chris (championship points leader Chris Buescher), we have to get better in order to reach our ultimate goal of a championship.  Looking forward to Watkins Glen and starting the first of three road courses in the next few weeks.”

Ben Rhodes

Ben Rhodes was heading toward his desired top-10 finish in the Alpha Energy Solutions Chevy in Saturday night’s U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway, when another competitor made contact with his No. 88 machine just 11 laps shy of the finish, sending him into the wall and ending his night. His 30th-place finish didn’t reflect the patience and effort that the young driver showed during the eventful 250-lap race. 

The 18-year-old started 13th in his fourth career NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) race and was steadily climbing toward the top 10 in the early going. When the first caution flag flew on lap 76, Rhodes was running 12th. At the start of the race, the No. 88 Chevrolet was loose on corner exit, but as the sun set, the track temperature cooled and started tightening up, leaving Rhodes with a handling condition that persisted throughout the race – loose on entry, tight in the center, and lacking forward bite on exit. Crew chief Dave Elenz called for wedge and track bar adjustments along with four tires and fuel on the first pit stop, and Rhodes restarted 10th. Unfortunately, he quickly reported a vibration that was the result of a loose right-front wheel from the stop, and he returned to pit road on lap 96 to remedy the issue.

With the unscheduled green-flag pit stop, Rhodes went a lap down to the leaders and had to spend the next 113 laps fighting to get in position for the free pass. Two quick cautions in succession gave the JRM rookie an opportunity to get back on the lead lap on lap 210, and he immediately began the march forward. Within 11 laps, he was inside of the top 15.

When the caution flag flew for the fifth time on lap 230, Rhodes was scored 13th. After just a single lap, he had advanced to 12th and was looking to reenter the top 10, when the No. 1 car of Elliott Sadler came up on him from the inside and turned him into the wall. Unfortunately, the Alpha Chevy was unable to continue and Rhodes was scored 30th.

Ryan Blaney earned his third NXS victory of 2015, followed by JRM’s Regan Smith, Brian Scott, Ty Dillon and Brendan Gaughan.

Ben Rhodes, driver No. 88 Alpha Energy Solutions team

“It was an unfortunate incident that happened in tonight’s XFINITY Series race with the No. 1 car. I’m aware of it going forward next time. It’s bad because as a rookie, my primary goal out here is to run the entire race, log laps, gain experience in the Alpha Energy Solutions Chevy so that I can get better and improve. You can’t improve with a torn up race car, and what’s even worse is that we were in position to meet both goals with completing all the laps and getting a top-10 finish. We rebounded from such an unfortunate event early on with the right-front tire being loose. There were a lot of ‘bads’ in today’s race, but I learned so much at the same time, passed a lot of cars, and learned how to race people – and learned what people to be careful around as I ran up through the field. That was a racing deal that happened at the end, but I’m talking about other cars too. When you get to race around everybody, you get to know what they run like and how to set them up for passes.”

 

 

No. 7 Fire Alarm Services

Chevrolet Camaro

Regan Smith

Start

9th

Finish

2nd

Laps Completed (Led)

260 of 260 (4)

Points (Bonus)

43 (1)

Standings (from leader)

4th (-39)

Status

Running

 

 

No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS

Chevrolet Camaro

Chase Elliott

Start

12th

Finish

9th

Laps Completed (Led)

260 of 260 (3)

Points (Bonus)

36 (1)

Standings (from leader)

2nd (-20)

Status

Running 

 

 

No. 88 Alpha Energy Solutions

Chevrolet Camaro

Ben Rhodes

Start

13th

Finish

30th

Laps Completed (Led)

239 of 260 (0)

Points (Bonus)

14 (0)

Standings (from leader)

8th (-122)

Status

Accident

 

 

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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