Nationwide Series driver Regan Smith got a call Sunday morning asking if he could come to Watkins Glen to drive Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet when Stewart elected to sit out the race after his involvement in the death of a sprint car driver Saturday night at a New York dirt track.
Smith reached Concord Regional Airport in time to catch a plane ride with Hendrick Motorsports team owner Rick Hendrick.
With no practice in the car and little experience with Stewart’s car, Smith stayed out of trouble most of the race but got caught up in a four-race wreck on Lap 82 and finished 37th.
“It’s my job to be able to drive a race car and it took me a little longer to get acclimated than I would have hoped it would,” Smith said. “I felt like at the end there I was finally starting to make some progress and I was able to get consistent with the car and understood the car a little better and what it was doing.
“These guys build fast race cars at Stewart-Haas and I was thankful to get in one. Definitely not under the circumstances.”
As it turned out, Allmendinger won and Busch ended up third.
“Those two put on a good show,” Busch said. “I thought I was sitting in a good spot running third hoping that the two would wipe each other out just enough that we would drive our Chevy into Victory Lane.”
He holds a five-point lead over Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon, who entered the race with the points lead but finished 34th.
“That last (pit) stop a couple of guys on new tires beat us. We had a good fast car, real good speed, just got caught out on that strategy there and didn’t finish in the top five,” Earnhardt said. “We had a good enough car, too.”
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