Regan Smith didn’t cross the start/finish line first at the conclusion of the last lap in the Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on Saturday, but he was declared the winner anyway, as he was in the lead when a caution came out on the final lap to end the race under yellow.
“I’m happy for Regan and JR Motorsports,” Smith’s teammate, Kasey Kahne said. “I’m surprised they threw that caution when, other times, they wouldn’t have.”
Kahne was the driver who actually crossed the line first, but he had to settle for third, as that was the position he was running in when the caution came out, freezing the field.
Joey Logano was credited with a second-place finish.
Drivers caught up in the last-lap wreck that ended the race included Alex Bowman, Brian Vickers and Elliott Sadler, along with several others.
“I saw the caution come out, so I knew I didn’t win,” Kahne said.
Kahne didn’t get the win, but Smith acknowledged an assist from his teammate in getting him from seventh to the win on the final lap.
“We don’t do it without the 5 car pushing us,” Smith said. “All we wre worried about was getting to the front.”
Saturday’s race was delayed nearly three hours by rain, so darkness hit the track before the end of the 117-lap scheduled distance. During a caution on lap 92, NASCAR officials decided to shave 10 laps off the race distance, but three laps were added back by a yellow flag with two laps to go and an attempt at a green-white-checker finish.
The wreck on the final lap wasn’t the biggest of the race. The fifth caution of the race on lap 92 was the result of a 10-car incident that involved Brian Scott, Johanna Long, Trevor Bayne, Ty Dillon, Sam Hornish Jr, and Nelson Piquet Jr., among others. Some of those drivers, including Hornish and Bayne had previously spent quite a bit of time at the front of the field.
The wreck cost Hornish the points lead. He headed into the race with a one-point lead over Smith. After the race, Smith claimed a 27-point lead over Hornish.
Other drivers who spent time up front included pole sitter Travis Pastrana, Logano, Justin Allgaier, Sadler, Parker Kligerman and Kurt Busch.
By the green-white-checker restart, Austin Dillon had gotten back on the lead lap to restart the race with the lead. He went a lap down early in the race because of a broken spark plug. He remained a lap down for much of the race.
Dillon got a push out front by Kligerman, but the Dillon-Kligerman tandem was overtaken by Busch and Allgaier on the last lap. They were all passed by Kahne, Logano and Smith in the last lap chaos, but before the final caution came out.
Busch finished fourth, and Allgaier rounded out the top-five. Finishing sixth through 10th were Kligerman, Mike Wallace, Jason White, Jeremy Clements and Austin Dillon.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR