NASCAR: Regan Smith claims first $100k bonus in NNS’ Dash4Cash

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In his inaugural appearance in the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ Dash4Cash, Regan Smith came away with the first of four $100,000 prizes to be handed out over the next four NNS races.

Smith, Ryan Reed, Ryan Sieg and Jeremy Clements were racing among themselves to earn the bonus up for grabs in today’s Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

In a narrow D4C win, Smith got the money with a 10th-place finish. Reed was right behind him in 11th place, followed by Sieg in 18th and Clements in 20th.

“I wasn’t so much worried about where [Reed] was, just why my car didn’t go as good as I wanted it,” Smith told ESPN after the race. “We struggled a lot in the Taxslayer car today and really, the only point where I was happy with it was when I had a little bit of clean air up towards the front there.

“We’ve got some work to do, but you know, we’ve run really good in these Dash4Cash races and have never been a part of ’em. So, I’m happy to be a part of it [now] and I’m happy to win it…This means a lot to our team and all the [Nationwide Series] teams to have an opportunity to race for [the bonus] and get a little extra spotlight in the middle of the season on our cars and sponsors.”

As the New Hampshire D4C winner, Smith also qualifies for the next D4C event at Chicagoland Speedway. There, he’ll battle Chris Buescher, Elliott Sadler and Brian Scott for the next $100,000 bonus.

Buescher, Sadler and Scott qualified for Chicagoland by being the top three NNS regulars in today’s race at New Hampshire; they finished fifth, sixth, and seventh respectively.

Buescher’s fifth-place result was especially impressive considering that he had to stretch his final fuel load over 92 laps after making his last stop on Lap 109.

“That was pretty crazy to do, but give all the credit to the crew chief and the engineer up on the box,” said Buescher, who was also the top rookie finisher in today’s race. “That was a brave call, but it worked out. I think I was looking at the flag stand the last five laps there.”

Sadler and Scott had to overcome getting spun in a restart incident at Lap 107. The incident was set off by Scott getting into the back of Sadler, which was then followed by Scott being turned around by another car.

Scott took the blame for the incident and apologized after the race to Sadler.

“…I think he knows that I don’t race like that and we’ll be good,” he said. “But I’m proud of these guys for rebounding, fighting, good pit stops, and getting us locked into the [D4C] next week at Chicago.”

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.