After a wild race Saturday evening at Talladega Superspeedway, the points lead in the NASCAR Nationwide Series changed hands for the first time this season.
Regan Smith was able to wrestle the points lead away from Sam Hornish Jr. with a win in the Aaron’s 312. Hornish finished 25th.
When the series arrives in Darlington for Friday night’s VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200, Smith will be sporting a 27-point advantage over Hornish. Justin Allgaier (-40), Parker Kligerman (-47) and Elliott Sadler (-47) round out the top five.
Smith’s position at the top of the points standings is a first for his team JR Motorsports, which first fielded a NASCAR Nationwide team in 2005 and is co-owned by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. Brad Keselowski, who drove for JRM during part of the 2007 season and all of 2008 and 2009, only got as high as second in the standings during the 2008 season.
This weekend, Smith hopes to increase his lead over Hornish and the rest of the field at Darlington, where his best finish in four series starts is 12th. The 1.366-mile South Carolina track, however, is the site of his only NSCS win. With eight scheduled laps remaining in the 2011 Southern 500, Smith passed Kasey Kahne for his first lead of the afternoon and remained at the point for the remainder of the race, which was extended three laps for a three-car accident.
Eight races into the 2013 season, the New York native has three top-five and six top-10 finishes, and has finished on the lead lap in every race. Smith, who hadn’t competed in the series since running 17 races during the 2007 season, returned to the series in last season’s finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where perhaps as a pre-cursor to this season he reached Victory Lane in his first time behind the wheel of a JR Motorsports Chevrolet.