Heading into last Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Road America, Regan Smith was enjoying a comfortable 58-point lead over Sam Hornish Jr. on the strength of 11 consecutive top-10 finishes
Less than a week later, as the series travels to Kentucky Speedway for Friday night’s Feed the Children 300, Smith’s advantage has shrunk to 28 points after finishing a season low 32nd at the Wisconsin road course. It’s indicative of the difference just one week can make in the midst of a tight championship battle. It also proves that the title is still very much up for grabs.
Not only did points leader Smith lose ground at Road America, but the race’s runner-up Justin Allgaier jumped Hornish in the standings to take over second place. Hornish fell to third in the standings, two points behind Allgaier, followed by Austin Dillon and Elliott Sadler, who both remained in their respective spots.
The last half of the top 10, however, was completely turned on its side. Parker Kligerman finished third on Saturday, his career-best finish in the series and moved up from eighth to sixth in the standings. Kyle Larson, who made his national series debut one year ago at Kentucky in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series finishing 10th, used a seventh-place finish to catapult him two spots in the standings to seventh. Brian Vickers finished sixth and gained a spot in the standings, moving into ninth.
On the flipside, a 20th-place performance dropped Brian Scott from sixth to eighth. Trevor Bayne provided the most movement among the top 10, dropping three spots to 10th after finishing 30th.
With only 86 points separating first and 10th place heading into the 15th race, the championship battle is the closest it’s been since NASCAR adopted the new points structure prior to the 2011 season. The margin at this same juncture during the past two seasons was 142 in 2011 and 180 last year.