Regan Smith wasn’t just racing upstart Kyle Larson for the win Saturday but also the rain.
He ended up beating both.
Smith held off Larson to win the Alliance Truck Parts 250 at Michigan International Speedway, his second win in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this season.
While Smith and his No. 7 JR Motorsports team were still celebrating in Victory Lane, rain – which had threatened most of the afternoon – finally began to fall at the track.
By that time, no one seemed to care.
“We worked hard on this car all weekend. It got good toward the end of practice, but after qualifying I was worried,” said Smith, who started 20th in the 39-car field. “I was nervous about what we had.
“I just want to say all of our hearts are with the Leffler family right now and we’re thinking about those guys. We’re going to donate a good portion of the winnings to Charlie’s fund.”
Jason Leffler, who spent much of his NASCAR career in the Nationwide Series, was killed Wednesday night in a winged sprint car race at a dirt track in New Jersey. He is survived by his 5-year-old son, Charlie.
Parker Kligerman was leading late in the race but was on a different fuel strategy and was forced to pit on Lap 112 of 125, turning the lead over to Smith.
Although Larson closed in several times, he was not able to make a pass on Smith for the lead.
“Close again, but we’ll take a second. I know our win is coming,” Larson said. “I got close with Leffler (decal) on our car. He was definitely riding with us.”
Leffler used to drive for the No. 32 team which is now Larson’s home at Turner Scott Motorsports.
Paul Menard finished third, Kyle Busch was fourth and Trevor Bayne was fifth. Smith continues to hold the series points lead with a 58-point advantage over second-place Sam Hornish Jr.
Earlier Saturday, Austin Dillon broke the Nationwide Series record by winning his fourth consecutive pole. He had been tied with five other drivers with three-straight. Dillon got in a late-race incident and finished 20th.