Short-track moves on a road course? Yes, it can be done, and Regan Smith perfected it on Saturday afternoon at Mid-Ohio, scoring the victory in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 after passing Alex Tagliani on the final lap.
In a race that was dominated by Tagliani and Smith, it came down to Tagliani leading at the white flag with Smith right on his bumper. Going into in the final two corners on the 2.258-mile course, Smith put the bumper to the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford, moving Tagliani out of the way and made it back to the finish line in first place.
The win is Smith’s first of the 2015 season, and first victory since the Xfinity Series-season opener at Daytona last February.
“I hate to do it in that last corner, but I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity,” Smith told NBC’s Dave Burns in Victory Lane. “I had to do what I had to do.”
Tagliani was less than thrilled about the finish after starting on the pole and leading a race-high 38 laps in his seventh start in the division.
— Alex Tagliani (@tagliani) August 15, 2015
“It’s just really unfortunate to win like that, but also to see him celebrate after a win like that,” Tagliani said. “He knows he was not going to win without pushing us off.”
The top three in the standings going into the race finished fourth, third and fifth. Chris Buescher, the points leader, finished fourth. Ty Dillon and Chase Elliott, who came into the race tied for second, finished third and fifth, respectively. Buescher maintains his 24-point lead over Dillon, and Elliott trails the lead by 25.
Elliott Sadler finished in sixth, followed by Brian Scott in seventh. Darrell Wallace Jr. found himself in the sand in the early stages of the race, but came back to finish eighth. The same happened to rookie Ben Rhodes early on, but he rallied back to finish 10th.
A multi-car incident with seven laps to go caused the eighth and final caution of the race. Kenny Habul‘s No. 20 car dived under teammate Boris Said and spun, collecting Said, Tomy Drissi and rookie Brandon Jones. Said would finish 13th, two spots behind the top-finishing Joe Gibbs Racing car, Daniel Suarez in 11th.
The Xfinity Series will hold its third and final road-course race of the year at Road America in two weeks. But before, the series will go to the place where the bump-and-run was made famous: Bristol Motor Speedway. The Food City 300 can be seen on Friday, Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN.
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