Assuming the lead with 13 laps remaining, Regan Smith managed to keep Kyle Larson behind him in the final circuits to win the Alliance Truck Parts 250 at Michigan International Speedway. The JR Motorsports pilot also made serious hay in the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship by pushing his lead to 58 points over Sam Hornish Jr., who suffered a 32nd place finish after an oil pump problem emerged on his car.
“I felt confident even though he was drafting up to me,” Smith told NASCAR.com. “It seemed like once we got the car out front it really came to life. [Crew chief] Greg [Ives] made some really good calls to get us the track position.”
Parker Kligerman had control of the lead late in the running, and was hoping for rain as the event had played out under iffy weather conditions. But the wet stuff never came and Kligerman was forced to pit for fuel with 13 laps left; the stop, along with a subsequent speeding penalty on pit road, sent him to a 25th-place finish.
“We played it perfectly for that situation…I was fully for it, but it sucks when you run top-five all day,” said Kligerman. “There was debris everywhere the last 20 laps. Of course, no one threw a caution, so we ran out of fuel and finished wherever we finished.”
Austin Dillon had made history earlier Saturday by becoming the first driver in NNS history to win four consecutive pole positions. He was especially strong in the first half of the race, but had a left-rear tire go down after staying out instead of pitting following a Lap 64 caution. He went a lap down because of the issue, and eventually tumbled to a 20th-place result after tagging the wall with five laps to go.
Larson, Paul Menard, Kyle Busch and Trevor Bayne rounded out the Top 5 spots at the finish.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.