NASCAR: Elliott Sadler takes over Nationwide points lead

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Regan Smith’s star-crossed history at Kentucky Speedway continued last night, and that’s helped Elliott Sadler take over the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship lead.

With 31 laps to go in last night’s John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300, Smith was jockeying for position with Kyle Larson and Ryan Reed. As they made their way down the backstretch, Reed made contact with Smith from behind and sent the latter’s car into the outside wall.

Smith then slid into the inside retaining wall for additional damage to the car. The incident relegated him to a 28th place finish, yet another in a string of bad results for him on the 1.5-mile oval.

In eight NNS starts at Kentucky, Smith has three DNFs, a top finish of only 12th in 2013, and an average finish of 26.2.

“The race was just a tough situation,” Smith said. “We tried to use pit strategy and get up front, and it worked until that caution came out after green-flag stops. That just killed us.

“It really led to us getting back in the pack and that was where we didn’t want to be. I think we all saw the results.”

While Smith limped home, Sadler was able to pull out a 10th-place finish that was enough to put him atop the NNS standings by four points over Chase Elliott, who finished in 12th. Smith is third in the standings now at eight points behind Sadler.

Heading into Daytona next weekend, Sadler said it was too early to start thinking about the points scenario – but that it was no time to be cautious either.

“You can’t play conservative,” he said. “Yes, we have the points lead and I’m happy about that because the last two weeks have killed us. Michigan running second and overheating and have to pit under green with 15 laps to go, and then running fifth at Road America and have a flat tire with four laps to go and come out running 20th.

“So, for us to sit here right now with the points lead is pretty amazing after the last couple weeks we’ve had. We’re going to go to Daytona and race like crazy and see what happens.”