Smith Earns Thrilling Win at Mid-Ohio

JR Motorsports | 8/15/2015

Mid-Ohio Nationwide News Regan Smith TaxSlayer Victory Lane XFINITY Series

Regan Smith used a dramatic bump-and-run pass on the final lap to win Saturday’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200.

Race 21 of 33: Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

Track Specs: 2.258-mile road course / 75 laps

Weather:  Sunny, 82 degrees

Smith's finish: 1st

Elliott’s finish: 5th 

Rhodes’ finish: 10th

Regan Smith

It had been 52 races since Regan Smith, driver of the No. 7 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet, had visited Victory Lane in a NASCAR XFINITY Series event for JR Motorsports. On Saturday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Smith used a dramatic bump-and-run pass of Alex Tagliani on the final turn of the final lap to win the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200.

Driving a TaxSlayer.com car that featured a special purple paint scheme with the picture of 10-year-old Laynie Roll, a patient at Nationwide Children’s Hospital who battles an involuntary muscle condition called dystonia, Smith lived up to Laynie’s prediction.  Earlier in the week, the precocious Laynie stated, “When Regan wins the race, I’ll cross the finish line first since my picture is on the hood!”

Laynie did cross the finish line first, but Smith was next, and he put the disappointment of the week before behind him to earn his first road-course victory, the fifth of his NXS career and first since Daytona in 2014. Laynie and her father were on the pit box for all 75 laps, and joined Smith and the TaxSlayer.com team in Victory Lane. With the triumph, Smith is now third on JR Motorsports’ XFINITY Series wins list behind Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski, both of whom have six each.

Smith led 19 of the 75 laps, and appeared to have the race well in hand, but Tagliani got past into Turn 4 with 15 laps remaining. Smith maintained second place through two caution periods in the last 12 laps – the last of which set up the pivotal final restart with three laps to go. Smith stayed tucked up on Tagliani’s rear deck as they wound their way through the final two laps. As the two leaders flashed under the white flag, Smith inched closer. With two turns to go, Tagliani swung wide to open the door for Smith, who was committed to the bottom. Smith kept his foot in it, applied the bumper and made the pass.

When Smith’s purple-painted car emerged first from the exit of the Carousel, Smith’s crew erupted in cheers. Smith finished second last year at Mid-Ohio, behind current championship leader Chris Buescher. The victory is JRM’s 24th as a company in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.

Regan Smith, driver No. 7 TaxSlayer.com team

“This is an incredible feeling, just an awesome feeling! I’m so proud of my guys. They’ve stuck behind me.  We’ve had a lot of opportunities to win. I’ve been wrecked so many times on these road courses that I did what I had to do. I didn’t spin him, just got the spot. I could have dive-bombed him anywhere on the last lap, but I’ve had that happen to me a lot on these road courses and I wasn’t going to do it to Tags. I had to do what I had to do, and I didn’t wreck him. We’re going to celebrate hard tonight.  I’m so happy for Laynie.  She’s here in Victory Lane with us.  She goes through way more than any kid should have to go through. I told her before we started I was going to do everything we could to win the race today.  I’m happy for TaxSlayer. They are a great partner of ours at JR Motorsports. They allowed us to run this paint scheme and show support to these kids.”

Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet, finished fifth in Saturday’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.  Elliott cemented himself among the leaders for the bulk of the race, all while smoothly navigating the challenging 13-turn road course en route to his fifth-consecutive top-10 finish.  

Elliott’s sixth-place starting spot not only led the qualifying efforts of the three-car JRM contingent, but it gave the No. 9 team the track position to make an immediate charge forward into the top five.  With the race’s initial caution coming on lap eight, crew chief Ernie Cope made a strategic call to keep Elliott out on the track while other cars elected to pit.  The decision gave Elliott the runner-up spot for the restart.

When the field took the green, Elliott made quick work of veteran Boris Said in the No. 54, muscling into the lead and holding point for the next four circuits.  That is until the race’s second caution slowed the field.  Elliott took the opportunity to hit pit road for fresh tires and fuel, and because he was now off-sequence with the leaders, lined up in 19th for the restart.

It took the next 17 laps but Elliott clawed his way back to fourth by lap 40.  As the laps began to slowly tick away, Elliott cleanly maintained a top-five spot while other competitors bumped for position around him. 

With the final caution coming on lap 70 of the 75-lap race, the die was cast for a dramatic green-white-checkered finish.  Elliott took the final restart in fifth and instantly had to go on the defense, battling back a strong advance by Elliott Sadler.  Once clear of Sadler, Elliott mustered a charge on points leader Chris Buescher, who occupied fourth.  Elliott drove to the rear bumper of Buescher in the 60, but came up just short of taking away the position and took the checkered flag in fifth.  It marked Elliott’s best road-course finish of the season. 

Elliott’s JRM teammate Regan Smith drove to his first victory of 2015.  He was followed to the line by Alex Tagliani, Ty Dillon and Chris Buescher.

Chase Elliott, driver No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS team

“I felt like we had a solid NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevy for most of the weekend.  We made some gains through practice and carried that over into qualifying.  Our starting spot helped us get things going in the right direction for the race.  Track position is key here and I liked Ernie’s (Cope, crew chief) call to stay out early and put the car out front.  It got a little chaotic toward the end there with guys beating and banging for position, so I’m glad we came out of it clean and with a top five. It’s disappointing to give up a spot in the points, but we’re only one point back from second and I think we have a tremendous opportunity to cut into that deficit next week at Bristol.”

Ben Rhodes

To say the least, it was an eventful day for Ben Rhodes and the No. 88 Alpha Energy Solutions team. After starting eighth, the team encountered several obstacles during Saturday’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200, but ultimately rallied to earn a top-10 finish at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Rhodes was paired with Alexandra James, a five-year-old Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH) patient with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, through NCH’s Patient Champion Program. She was honored as a special guest of the No. 88 team this weekend and her picture was featured on the deck lid of the No. 88 Alpha Energy Solutions Chevy, while her name was listed above the passenger door. Rhodes spent time with the young fan and her family before climbing in the Alpha Chevy for the 75-lap event.

At the first caution on lap seven, Rhodes was running 12th and reported that his Chevrolet was too tight through the center of the corners. Crew chief Dave Elenz called for Rhodes to stay out under the yellow while some of the leaders came to pit road, which moved the 18-year-old driver up to fifth for the restart.

Rhodes was pushed off course by a competitor on lap 14, dropping him to 17th. A conveniently-timed caution came out on the same lap, and he was able to bring the Alpha Energy Solutions Chevy to pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and wedge adjustments. Rhodes restarted 34th, but quickly moved back inside the top 20. On lap 21, the young driver spun to bring out the caution as he got stuck in the sand trap in turn two. Rhodes lost a lap during the incident, but another caution one lap later allowed him to earn the free pass and get back on the lead lap.

After pitting, he rejoined the field in 35th for the lap-30 restart, but moved into 17th by the following caution on lap 42. Rhodes reported that the No. 88 Chevrolet was too loose from adjustments made during the previous pit stop, so Elenz called him to pit road for four tires, fuel and another round of changes. After a quick stop by the Alpha crew, Rhodes exited pit road in 12th and was running 14th when the sixth caution flag of the event waved on lap 53. He came to pit road for tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment and restarted 26th. After staying patient for the first three-quarters of the race, Rhodes started forcing his way to the front of the field and drove up to a 10th-place finish by the race’s conclusion.

Rhodes’ JRM teammate Regan Smith won his first race of the 2015 season, his fifth career NASCAR XFINITY Series victory. Alex Tagliani finished second, followed by Ty Dillon, Chris Buescher and JRM’s Chase Elliott.

Ben Rhodes, driver No. 88 Alpha Energy Solutions team

“Overall, it was a successful weekend here at Mid-Ohio. I think the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 went very well. I was thrilled to have Alexandra (Nationwide Patient Champion Alexandra James) on the box. She did an awesome job this weekend – she was part of the crew, as I told her. She had a great time hopping in the race car before the race, hanging around with everybody and with the gifts that we gave her. I had a great time working with her and everybody from Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Onto the race, it was up and down, with more “downs” than “ups” I believe. Our crew guys on the No. 88 Alpha Energy Solutions Chevy did a great job getting me spots on pit road and keeping us on a good strategy for fuel. That got me back in position, got me back in game play, and that was good because it was a really rough and aggressive race, and as the laps wore on, we got back up towards the front and I was able to be more aggressive to get there. I was initially trying to be more conservative, but I know better next time. I’m building my foundation as a driver. We met all of the goals today: a top 10 and finishing all the laps, and we’re moving on to Road America.”

 

 

No. 7 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet Camaro

Regan Smith 

Start

8th 

Finish

1st   

Laps Completed (Led)

75 of 75 (19)

Points (Bonus)

47 (4)

Standings (from leader)

4th (-51)

Status

Running

 

 

No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS

Chevrolet Camaro

Chase Elliott

Start

6th

Finish

5th

Laps Completed (Led)

75 of 75 (4)

Points (Bonus)

40 (1)

Standings (from leader)

3rd (-25)

Status

Running

 

 

No. 88 Alpha Energy Solutions

Chevrolet Camaro

Ben Rhodes

Start

8th

Finish

10th

Laps Completed (Led)

75 of 75 (0)

Points (Bonus)

34 (0)

Standings (from leader)

10th (-167)

Status

Running

 

Articles

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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