NASCAR: Tough Kentucky track awaits Regan Smith this evening


Seven races remain in the 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series season, including tonight’s 300 at Kentucky Speedway.

And at 18 points behind championship leader and JR Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott, the title is still a distinct possibility for one Regan Smith.

But much like Kyle Busch’s well-documented troubles at Kansas Speedway in Sprint Cup, Smith has a similarly rocky relationship with Kentucky on the Nationwide side.

As we mentioned yesterday, Smith has never finished higher than 12th (September 2013) in eight career Nationwide starts at the 1.5-mile oval between Cincinnati and Louisville. His average finish there: An anemic 26th.

Smith finished 28th in the Nationwide Series’ visit to Kentucky this past June after getting caught in a late-race crash. If he wants to have a chance at overtaking Elliott and winning this year’s championship, he cannot afford a calamity like that in tonight’s race.

Throughout the season, both JRM men have been steady in their performance. But while each of them have at least 20 Top-10 finishes in 2014 – Smith with 22, Elliott with 20 – it’s been Elliott that had claimed the bigger results with three wins to Smith’s one and 12 Top-5 finishes to Smith’s six.

That difference has added up to the 18-point cushion Elliott enjoys now as the championship has become a two-horse race (although tonight’s pole sitter, Ty Dillon, may have something to say about that).

Tonight, Elliott and Smith will start together in Row 5. With time running out, Smith has to start banking finishes ahead of his rookie counterpart to cut into his deficit.

And it has to start tonight on a track that has never been kind to him.

“It’s so tough without somebody having a problem to make points up the way the structure is, and the way the races play out in the Nationwide Series,” Smith said earlier this week. “If you’re making up three or four points a week, that’s been a good day. And that’s the way you have to look at it.

“I would say there is probably four or five of us that still have a shot at [the championship]. Realistically, maybe a couple of those guys need some bad luck from cars ahead of them. If somebody rolls off three or four wins in a row, those bonus points are huge and you’re going to jump right back up into it pretty quickly.”

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”