LEXINGTON — Regan Smith bumped his way past Alex Tagliani in the Carousel a turn from the finish Saturday to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Driving for JR Motorsports, Smith ended a 52-race victory drought with his fifth career win. Last week at Watkins Glen, he was bumped twice in the closing laps and finished 20th.
“These guys work their butts off all week,” Smith said. “This car was destroyed door tops down, they rebuilt it in one day. The guys back at the shop phenomenal job, my road guys have stuck behind me for a while. We’ve had a lot of opportunities to win. I hate to do it in the last corner, but it’s been too long, a long time, I wasn’t going to pass the opportunity up.
“I’ve been wrecked so many times on these road courses, I had to do what I had to do right there. I didn’t spin him, just got the spot. We’re going to celebrate hard tonight.”
Tagliani held on to finish second.
“If I knew that he was going to win like that probably instead of passing him fair and square early on in the race, I would have probably pushed him off a bit,” the Canadian road racer said. “But he knows I’m not going to be there next weekend to retaliate.”
Tagliani and defending champion Chris Buescher had the two strongest cars early, but both elected to pit on the eighth lap when the first of a track-record eight cautions flew. The leaders pitted a final time just beyond the midway point on lap 43 during the fifth yellow.
Smith, second a year ago on the 2.258-mile road course, was an equal to Tagliani and Buescher at mid-race. He took over the lead in the pits, just beating Tagliani by a fender. Tagliani caught Smith on Lap 61, but the Canadian road racer couldn’t hold him off on the last lap.
Ty Dillon was third, followed by Buescher, Chase Elliott, Elliott Sadler, Brian Scott, Darrell Wallace, Dylan Lupton and Ben Rhodes.
Buescher leads the standings, 24 points ahead of Dillon.
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