Box Score Info:
RACE: NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard
TRACK: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
DRIVER: Regan Smith
CAR: No. 95 WRL General Contractors Camaro ZL1
- After three days of relentless rain due to the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams were unable to get on track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway until the green flag dropped for the race on Monday afternoon. Regan Smith served as the No. 95 team’s substitute driver for the weekend after Kasey Kahne sat out from the weekend’s event due to lingering effects from extreme heat exhaustion he received at Darlington the weekend before. Without any time on track for teams to shake down their cars, Smith started from 27th in the WRL General Contractors Chevrolet after the starting line-up was set according to the NASCAR rule book. Smith, who hadn’t driven a race car for over a year, quickly got his bearings back behind the wheel immediately in race conditions. Despite having to learn the feel from the new Camaro ZL1, Smith battled some handling conditions throughout the race, but he and the team fought on to finish 20th at Indy.
- Monday’s 160-lap event took the green flag at 2:04 p.m. EST as the field roared to life for the first time getting their cars up to speed and on the track for the weekend. NASCAR called for two competition cautions at lap 10 and lap 30 in order to give teams a chance to assess where their cars were early on since there weren’t any practice sessions or qualifying due to the rain showers in the area.
- When the first competition caution came after lap 10, Smith told crew chief Jon Leonard that the No. 95 Chevy was a “touch snug in the middle” as he also told the team that the car felt a bit “rolled over on the right rear on the exits of (Turns) 2 and 4.” The team made a four-tire stop without any adjustments since Smith had asked them to let him get a longer run going before any chassis changes. Over the next run, the WRL General Contractors Chevy started to get too loose on throttle into the corners, but then started to get tighter as the run went on. When the second competition caution came following lap 30, Leonard called his driver in for service for another four-tire stop, but this time for a few adjustments
- The race returned to green to begin lap 35 with Smith scored in 22nd at the time. A caution came on lap 40 when the No. 78 got into the wall and the No. 95 team chose to pit for four tires and fuel under the yellow flag as cleanup continued. Stage 1 ended following lap 50 with Smith scored in 30th at the time. In a strategy move, the team opted to pit for fuel on lap 52 and the move set the WRL General Contractors Chevy to restart in 18th. Over the run in Stage 2, Smith told the team that the No. 95 was “extremely good” in the turns, but that it was stalling a bit on the straightaways at the time. Loose-handling conditions started to creep into the No. 95 machine as Stage 2 went on. “Loose in and off” the corners was the biggest challenge at the time for Smith, but he was able to end Stage 2 in 16th. On the caution that followed the end of the stage, the team performed another four-tire stop with a few adjustments in order to help tighten up their No. 95 Camaro ZL1.
- Smith was able to remain within the top-25 even though his No. 95 Chevy continued to get loose as the run went on. A caution for debris at lap 144 found Smith tell the team that the WRL General Contractors Chevy got “too loose too quickly in the cleaner air” so the team made some air pressure adjustments on their four-tire stop at lap 145. Smith restarted in 19th to begin lap 149, and in the final 50 laps of the race, he was up to 17th before a late-race caution set up a restart with three to go. In the end, Smith crossed the line in 20th in a successful return behind the wheel of a stock car after a 17-month hiatus.
- Brad Keselowski drove to the victory in Monday’s Brickyard 400, his third series win of the season, as the MENCS regular season schedule came to a close before The Playoffs begin. Erik Jones, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five finishers on Monday afternoon at the historic track.
2018 Season Summary:
Starts - 26
Wins - 0
Top 5's - 1
Top 10's - 1
Poles - 0
South Point 400
Las Vegas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile track)
Las Vegas, NV
Sunday, September 16, 2018