Box Score Info:
RACE: NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; 1000Bulbs.com 500
TRACK: Talladega Superspeedway
DRIVER: Regan Smith
CAR: No. 95 Procore Camaro ZL1
- Talladega Superspeedway is always a wildcard race on the schedule since things can happen in the blink of an eye to completely ruin a seemingly strong run. With cars racing at speeds of over 200 mph just inches from each other, cars have a tendency of getting shuffled through the field during the race's 500 miles. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams had one practice session prior to Saturday afternoon's qualifying run to work on their car's handling. After shaking their car down in race trim, Regan Smith and his No. 95 Procore team made their single-car qualifying effort to earn the 25th-starting position for Sunday. Smith was able to run a clean race and avoid any contact, to drive off with the organization's second top-10 finish of the season, and Smith's first top-10 finish since 2016.
- Sunday's 1000Bulbs.com 500 took the green flag at 1:12 p.m. CST with Smith and his No. 95 Procore Chevrolet starting from 25th. During the opening laps of the race, Smith called in over the team radio that his car was "really loose on the top" as he continued to run in the mid-20's at the time. An early caution on lap 11 allowed crew chief Jon Leonard to bring his driver in for a round of adjustments aimed at helping to tighten up the Procore Chevy.
- The race returned to green to begin lap 15 with Smith in 29th at the time after teams had varied their pit strategy options under the caution. Over the next run, Smith told his team that the adjustments they had made were "half of what I need for entry, but the back is still swinging." Smith was able to improve to 23rd before Stage 1 came to an end following lap 55. As the team further discussed the handling challenges, they opted to pit for a four-tire stop with more chassis adjustments.
- Stage 2 took the green flag on lap 161 with the Procore Chevy in 25th, but just two laps later, the yellow flag appeared again due to the No. 48 car. Leonard called for a fuel-only stop to top off the Procore Chevy, and Smith lined up in 20th for the restart to begin lap 67.
- Smith continued to steadily gain positions over the next run but told his team that the No. 95 continued to be free even though it was better overall and that they were "chipping away at the handling." The Procore Chevy had driven up to 12th before another caution came on lap 104 when the No. 42 popped a tire. Leonard told his driver to stay out since the end of Stage 2 was coming following lap 110.
- Stage 2 ended with Smith running in 12th, and once again, the team continued to make adjustments aimed at helping to improve handling in the Procore Chevrolet. Talladega is typically a race where teams focus on maximizing their speeds, but Sunday's race proved to be a bit more handling-focused according to many in the field based on overall team radio chatter. A four-tire stop with two rounds in both rears were made on the team's lap 112 stop, and Smith lined up 23rd for the restart after teams once again opted for varying pit strategies.
- Looseness continued to challenge Smith and the Procore team as he told the team that the No. 95 was "looser through all of 3 and 4" at the time. A caution at lap 137 allowed Leonard to make the call for a two-tire stop in a play to get the Procore Chevy improved track position for the restart. Returning to green to start lap 142, Smith was scored in tenth, but eventually got shuffled back into 15th before another caution came at lap 160.
- Restarting in 22nd to begin lap 165 with 23 laps remaining in the race, business started to pick up with cars jockeying around for positions. Smith got shuffled around without a lot of drafting help as he fell back to 25th before a late-race caution came on lap 187. The yellow flag meant that the race was slated to go into Overtime once it returned to green. Leonard told his driver that they were good to go until the end of the race on fuel so the team stayed out under the caution and the Procore Chevy lined up in 12th for the restart.
- With several of the leaders ahead of him low on fuel, Smith and the team hoped that the extra laps would find many running out of fuel before the end of the race. A few faded before the race returned to green to start lap 192, but in the end, Smith was able to cross the line in 10th as he earned the team their second top-10 run of the year in the process.
- Aric Almirola earned the victory on Sunday afternoon at Talladega and snapped a 149-race winless streak in the process as he punched his ticket through to the next round of the 2018 Playoffs. Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Denny Hamlin, and Joey Logano rounded out the top-five finishers, while Smith was scored with a 10th-place finish with his No. 95 Procore Camaro ZL1.
2018 No. 95 Season Summary:
Starts - 31
Wins - 0
Top 5's - 1
Top 10's - 2
Poles - 0
Hollywood Casino 400
Kansas Speedway (1.5-mile)
Kansas City, KS
Sunday, October 21st, 2018