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.”

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.