Saturday, May 7, 2011

Regan Smith Shocks the NASCAR World, Holds on to Win at Darlington

Sporting News Wire Services

Regan Smith gets first career win; pays off 500/1 in Vegas
DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Nearly three years after a NASCAR ruling denied him his first Sprint Cup victory, Regan Smith finally got the elusive win.

After staying out on old tires, Smith held off Carl Edwards to win Saturday night's Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in a dramatic green-white-checkered-flag finish.

Get your Winner's gear!

Smith crossed the finish line .196 seconds ahead of runner-up Edwards.

"This is the Southern 500 -- we're not supposed to win this thing," an incredulous Smith radioed to his crew after the race.

Brad Keselowski, also on old tires, finished third, with pole-sitter Kasey Kahne running fourth and Ryan Newman fifth.

The victory was redemption for Smith, who was deprived of an apparent victory at Talladega in 2008 when he was penalized for passing Tony Stewart below the yellow out-of-bounds line that separates the racing surface from the apron.

After a final round of green-flag pit stops, Edwards, the Cup points leader, passed Kahne for the lead as the cars sped into Turn 1. Edwards was comfortably in front when Jeff Burton's engine blew and oiled the track with 10 laps left, causing the 10th caution of the night.

After Smith, Keselowski and Stewart stayed out, taking the top three spots under caution, Edwards climbed to second after a restart on Lap 363 of the scheduled 367-lap race. The previous caution, however, was only a prelude to a wild three-wide wreck involving Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch later that same lap. That set up the two-lap sprint as the race went to overtime, with Edwards and Smith taking the green flag side-by-side.

Kahne, Edwards and Harvick took turns out front during the second half of the race after Busch made an unscheduled pit stop.

Busch had led 78 laps when a vibration forced him to the pits on Lap 205. A caution for Jimmie Johnson's spin on the frontstretch trapped Busch a lap down. The driver of the No. 18 didn't get the lap back until he received a free pass as the highest scored lapped car for a restart on Lap 244.

Busch had worked his way up to 12th before NASCAR called the ninth caution of the race on Lap 280 for debris on the backstretch.

Darlington Results

Harvick vs Busch
This is what Harvick did to Busch last year at Homestead

Sure, Kyle Busch intentionally spun out Kevin Harvick, but was this not expected at some point? Busch has been pretty quiet about the matter, but he still owes Harvick for parking him in the season finale at Homestead last year. That may not have been the reason Busch did it, but for Harvick to act all shocked after giving Busch some taps just prior to their incident is kind of ridiculous on his behalf. As if Harvick's the only driver who can enforce? Harvick's been doing it for years, but it's a problem when someone punts him?

What's hard to understand is how their relationship eroded so quickly. They used to hang out together, wives and all, with the Harvick's getting Kyle Busch and his soon to be wife Samantha involved in Twitter. They used to tweet nice photos of each other having dinner. It was NASCAR's two bad boys teaming together, or so it seemed until Homestead.

I'm just wondering what happened between the two that caused Harvick to be so harsh on and off the track at Homestead. We should have expected that these two drivers personalities could not co-exist as friends on and off the track. Lucky for us, we get to watch this all unfold, all season long.

When the race ended and they played cat and mouse, I thought we we're going to see a good one, especially when Harvick jumped out of his car. I just wish that Kyle would have got out of his car and seen a scrap happen, but Harvick brought his gas man along, a huge hulking kind of guy, where Busch didn't have anyone from his own team there. Why would he get out, so the two bully's in the school yard could have one hold him and the other gut punch him repeatedly? That's not cowardly, that's smart.

Plus, really, who's the coward here, the guy strapped to his seat and getting punches thrown his way or the guy throwing the punches with his helmet on? Doesn't really matter, it was all cool!

Busch ramming Harvick's driver-less car on pit road into the wall, just as Harvick was trying to take a swing inside Busch's window was a classic scene.

NASCAR likely will fine Busch for that pit road incident, and they'd be justified in doing so. That could have been a dangerous situation if someone was walking by not paying attention, but who could not pay attention to what was going on with them. Even while Regan Smith was making his victory lap, all eyes were focused on pit road.

NASCAR executives are probably high-fivin' each other with no cameras around because this is what they want, two of their biggest stars feuding. The internet has blown up across the country with NASCAR being the trending topic and NASCAR will be in the news all week, not for Regan Smith winning his first race, but two stars going at it.

I feel bad for Smith that his moment was kind of upstaged, but not bad enough to wish the ordeal didn't happen.

A few lucky bettors in Las Vegas could care less about what happened with the Harvick & Busch show as Regan Smith closed on the Las Vegas Hilton's board at 500-to-1. No comment as of yet on how many bettors actually laid cash down on Smith, but there were bound to be a few for small amounts.

Just like all the other sports, people like to bet a little to win a lot. In all my years behind the counter I've seen bettors take their $5 and bet the biggest long shots in car races saying, "You never know, anything's possible," and usually I'd reply to myself, "Yes, I do know, you have no shot". Well on this day, it was that bettors day to know, congrats.

So far we've had a 100-to-1 shot with Trevor Bayne winning at Daytona and now this. What's next? If a single car team with a limited bduget can win at the toughest track on the circuit, than anything is possible like the man said.


Links to More Kyle and Harvick Stuff

Busch and Harvick Clash After The Showtime Southern 500 - 

Harvick Punches Busch at Darlington -

Newman vs Montoya? OMG! That's So Yesterday - Charlotte Observer 

Harvick & Busch May Note Be Docked For Points - Virginia Pilot 

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