Regan Smith scores wild NNS win at Talladega

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In a green-white-checkered finish that can be best described as Quintessential Talladega, Regan Smith emerged as the winner of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron’s 312 after racing Kasey Kahne and Joey Logano to the stripe while a multi-car wreck ensued behind them on the frontstretch.

Kahne actually won the three-way drag race, but the crash caused NASCAR to bring out the caution to freeze the field. After a review, the series decided that Smith was in the lead at the moment the field was frozen, giving the JR Motorsports driver the win.

“First and foremost, we don’t do it without [Kahne] pushing us,” Smith told ESPN in Victory Lane. “I gotta thank Kasey – he stuck with me at the end. Coming down the backstretch, I thought, ‘Oh, we’re gonna take fifth or sixth and that’s how it’s gonna go.’ The guys that were leading — I can’t even tell you the order they were in, I just saw cars at that point — they got all jammed up in [Turn] 3.

“We had a run and I made a move. I wasn’t really sure if I was clear or not, but I figured it was the only chance I had to win the race. I wanted to make that move and see if it would pay off for us. It did.”

Kahne, who wound up finishing second, admitted that he was “surprised” that NASCAR opted to throw the yellow at that point instead of having the field race back to the line.

“So many times, they wouldn’t in that situation,” he said to ESPN. “And I won at the finish line…We had a really good [car] and worked with Regan really well, and with a few different guys throughout the race. And we were right there.

“NASCAR always switches it up, so you never know what’s going to happen. I was surprised they threw the caution; I thought we would’ve went to the line. But I saw the caution before I got to the line, so I knew I didn’t win.”

With darkness setting in and the lack of a lighting system at their disposal, NASCAR shortened the event to 107 laps after Talladega’s infamous “Big One” hit on Lap 94 following contact between Sam Hornish Jr. and Johanna Long. The field saw the green come back with seven laps remaining, but Joey Coulter was spun on the frontstretch and hit the wall with three to go to set up the G-W-C finish.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III