Smith Increases Points Lead At Michigan, Makes First Trip To Road America
There is always a first time for everything. This Saturday, the NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader Regan Smith will make his first start at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., in the Johnsonville Sausage 200 Presented by Menards.
Although he has never competed at the 4.05-mile road course in 116 series starts, he has raced four times on road courses in the NNS: twice at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City and twice at Watkins Glen International in New York. His finishes haven’t exactly been storybook; he has an average finishing position of 23.25 and has never led a lap, however, he’s finished on the lead lap in all four events.
Before the last race of 2012, Smith hadn’t competed in the series since 2007 when he ran a partial schedule for Ginn Racing. Last year, the Cato, N.Y., native sat behind the wheel of one of JR Motorsports’ Chevrolets for the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, his first race in the series in five years. However, it was like he had never left, as he held off Kyle Busch in the closing laps to secure the victory.
That momentum has certainly carried over into 2013 with Smith winning two of the first 13 races (Talladega, Michigan). His Talladega victory propelled him into the points lead over Sam Hornish Jr., who held the lead after each of the first seven races.
Going into last Saturday’s Michigan race, Smith’s lead was a healthy 23 points over Hornish. By the end of the night, Smith had increased it to a 58-point advantage. That margin might be threatened this weekend at Road America, where Hornish finished fifth last year in his only start at the road course.
Smith, however, has been firing on all cylinders lately as he rides a streak of 11 consecutive top-10 finishes into Road America.