In his first NASCAR Nationwide Series race since 2007 and from behind the wheel of the car he’ll drive full-time next year, the No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, Regan Smith gave fans a preview of things to come when he took the checkered flag and drove into victory lane after the Ford EcoBoost 300 season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway.
“That was a strong race car there,” Smith said in victory lane. “I’m excited about driving them next year. Hopefully, that’s a statement.”
While Smith was celebrating a race win, several other drivers/teams had other things to celebrate. After finishing sixth, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. claimed his second-straight series driver’s championship, making him only the sixth driver in Nationwide Series history to win back-to-back titles.
“It’s really neat,” Stenhouse said. “These guys behind me are what do it all the time.”
Joey Logano’s 16th-place race finish was good enough to give Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 team the owner’s championship, on the strength of nine wins from Logano throughout the year.
Austin Dillon finished third in points in his first full year of the season, en route to rookie of the year honors. Dillon finished Saturday’s race in the fifth spot.
“It was a great year,” Dillon said. “I can’t say enough about my team. We’re basically a rookie team.”
Dillon just missed finishing out the year second in points by one point to Richard Childress teammate Elliott Sadler, who finished the race ninth.
Finishing the race in second was Kyle Busch, Brendan Gaughan was third, and Sam Hornish finished fourth. The top-five race finish secured the fourth spot in the season-ending points standings for Hornish behind Stenhouse, Sadler and Dillon.
With a 12th-place race finish, Michael Annett beat out Justin Allgaier in a tight battle for the fifth and final points position to be recognized at the series awards banquet on Monday night.
Finishing the race seventh through 10th were Brian Scott, Ryan Blaney, Sadler and Cole Whitt.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
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