Regan Smith started in the middle of the field for the Alliance Truck Parts 250 on Saturday. But he used a late race charge to take cross the finish line first to claim the victory.
Austin Dillion started on the pole for the Alliance Truck Parts 250, his second straight season leading the field to the green.
A year after starting setting the pole qualifying record at 190.375 MPH, Dillon was even faster. He eclipsed his previous mark to set the record at 191.882 MPH. He was joined on the front row by teammate Paul Menard. A third Chevrolet driven by Brad Sweet started the Alliance Truck Parts 250 in third.
Meanwhile Smith started the race in 20th place while Kyle Larson opened in 11th.
But both managed to find the answers they never anticipated to finish one-two, respectively, in the 22nd Annual Alliance Truck Parts 250.
Smith, the Nationwide points leader, held off the fast-closing Larson to win by 0.330 seconds or about five car lengths. Smith was aided by Greg Ives from Bark River, Mich. who made the crucial calls in the middle of the race. It was Smith’s second victory of the year, both times starting from 20th after poor qualifying attempts.
Larson, vying for Rookie of the Year honors, continued his strong showing in his first full year in the Nationwide Series.
“We worked hard this entire weekend but after qualifying I was worried,” Smith said. “I was actually scared to death and we were not even trimmed out like the other guys. I still knew we had a good race car and we used track position to get up front and we caught a little bit of a break with a timely caution.
“Once we got in front it was a situation of holding off the No. 32 (Larson). Kyle had a fast car and even though he was drafting up on us at the end I felt confident he wasn’t going to get much closer than that five-car gap.”
It was Larson’s 11th top-10 finish overall this season in his MIS debut.
While Smith led for the final 13 laps, Larson never led but was also never out of contention over the last few laps. He closed ever so slightly on Smith with each lap to match his career-best finish with his eighth top-10 finish this season.
“I could inch up to Regan and get a big draft on the front stretch and then I’d get too tight off of Turn 2 and he would get away from me on the backstretch,” Larson said. “But I definitely didn’t think we had a second place car at the beginning of that race. We were in danger of going a lap down during that first run, but we worked on the car quite a bit, got it good, and then really good at end.”
Menard finished third, followed by Kyle Busch and Trevor Bayne. Dillon led for the first 41 laps and a race-leading total of 61 before getting caught up in some untimely pit stops to finish 20th. Sam Hornish, Jr., from nearby Defiance, OH, was also an early-race threat, running as high as second before running over debris that penetrated his engine and broke the oil pump.
Hornish continues to place second in the Nationwide points chase, falling 58 points behind Smith.