Smith holds off Larson to win Nationwide race


Associated Press

BROOKLYN, Mich. — The rain drops splashed down on the pavement at Michigan International Speedway about an hour after Regan Smith’s victory Saturday.

Too late to interrupt the race — and that was fine with Smith and crew chief Greg Ives.

“I’ve had a lot of different situations over the years, of weather and how it plays into it,” Ives said. “I had the radar on my screen, and I saw it breaking up. None of my strategy really came off the weather — whether or not the rain was going to come. … If it would have came and rained us out, it happens, but I wasn’t going to guarantee myself anything on the rain.”

Smith won the Nationwide Series race, holding off Kyle Larson in the final 10 laps and more than doubling his lead in the points standings. He took the lead with 13 laps remaining when Parker Kligerman had to pit. The race was run under threatening weather conditions, but all 125 laps and 250 miles were completed with no delays.

Kligerman led for 13 laps toward the end, but the rain that might have helped him didn’t arrive in time.

“We played it perfectly for that situation,” Kligerman said. “There was debris everywhere the last 20 laps. Of course, no one threw a caution, so we ran out of fuel and finished wherever we finished.”

Kligerman finished 25th. Sam Hornish Jr., who is second in the standings, fell from 23 points behind Smith to 58 points back. He finished 32nd — his day ended early because of an oil pump problem.

“One of the pieces of debris that were flying around on the track probably from one of the cars that got wrecked early on came through the nose of the car and actually broke the oil pump,” Hornish said. “That basically allowed that front bearing to dump a bunch of oil out of the engine.”

Smith won for the second time this year. It was his 11th straight top-10 finish, and although Larson closed the gap a bit toward the end, he wasn’t able to overtake Smith’s No. 7 Chevrolet.

Smith’s final margin of victory was 0.33 seconds. He also won at Talladega in May — but he was unsatisfied with recent results despite his lead in the standings.

“We didn’t feel good. I think every time we go to the racetrack, we want this team to be the team that’s up front, that’s leading laps, that’s contending for wins,” Smith said. “Unless we’re winning every race, we’re not content.”

Smith won last year at Homestead in his debut race with JR Motorsports. He now has three Nationwide victories since teaming up with co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Paul Menard finished third Saturday, followed by Kyle Busch and Trevor Bayne. Pole winner Austin Dillon was 20th.

INDYCAR: Ryan Hunter-Reay continued Andretti Autosport’s domination at the Milwaukee Mile, winning the IndyCar event for the second year in a row in West Allis, Wis.

Hunter-Reay became the first driver to win back-to-back races at the Mile since Tony Kanaan in 2006 and 2007 when he was driving for — you guessed it, Andretti.

Andretti drivers have won five of the last nine races at the mile oval and nearly had a perfect day Saturday in a race that is promoted by Michael Andretti’s marketing company. Hunter-Reay got the win, E.J. Viso finished fourth and James Hinchcliffe was fifth.

The only blemish was pole-sitter Marco Andretti, who led the first 62 laps before his day fell apart with a mechanical issue.

For Hunter-Reay, it was the second win of the season for the defending IndyCar Series champion. This one came at the site of the track he used to jumpstart last year’s title run — Hunter-Reay reeled off three consecutive wins starting with Milwaukee last season to climb into the championship race.

IndyCar Series points leader Helio Castroneves was second and followed by Penske Racing teammate Will Power as Chevrolet swept the podium. It was the first podium finish this season for Power, who hasn’t won a race since Brazil last year.

 

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