Risk vs. reward: Regan Smith plays it safe, finishes second in Nationwide race at Daytona

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Regan Smith is no stranger to last lap wrecks, but in Friday’s Subway Firecracker 250, Smith made the choice to not risk wrecking and instead settled for a second-place finish.

In hindsight, it likely was the right move.

Had Smith, who led the most laps in the race (47 of 103), washed up the track at Daytona International Speedway, it likely would have created a huge wreck.

And his second-place finish would likely have been a lot further down the grid.

So, not only did Smith – who won the season-opening NNS race at Daytona in February – play it safe, he also regained the Nationwide Series points lead.

“I watched the replay and I blocked the 42’s (Kyle Larson) move and think if I’d gone up any higher, we’d probably all wreck there,” Smith told ESPN. “I had pretty good sized gap but at that point … I lost just enough momentum that it didn’t quite work out.”

But there was a silver lining for being, as Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights would say, the first loser.

“It was a teammate over there (in victory lane), so that’s pretty cool that Kasey got the win,” Smith said of JR Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne, who rallied from sixth place to win on the final lap of the green-white-checker finish.

“(Kahne) pushed me to the win last year (April 2013 NNS race) at Talladega, so it’s good to see him get one and JR Motorsports got a 1-2,” Smith said.

While he’s now back atop the NNS standings with a 12-point edge over former points leader Elliott Sadler, who finished 21st in Saturday’s race, Smith was a bit down but realized what he did in the charge to the checkered flag was a means to an end.

“I’m disappointed,” Smith said, “but part of getting out of here is just getting out of here and not having anything stupid happen. Not too bad.”

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Gabby Chaves to sub for Joao Barbosa at Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen

Photo: IndyCar
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Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.

The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.

Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.

Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.

“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”

Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”

Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.

The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.

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