By Brian Citino
When Kyle Busch leads 110 laps in a NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Dover International Speedway, chances are you’re going to see him in Sunoco Victory Lane at the end of the race.
So when he was out in front of the field for most of the early part of Saturday’s “Hisense 200” NASCAR XFINITY Series race, typically you’d win a few dollars if you placed a wager on him finishing in the same position. But in racing, especially at this level, nothing is guaranteed.
And so it was that a typical Dover scene morphed into a very atypical one, as Regan Smith led the final 80 laps of the race and captured his first NASCAR XFINITY Series victory at the Monster Mile.
“It was a really fulfilling win for a lot of reasons,” Smith said. “With this group of guys and Jason [Burdett] as our crew chief, it’s been a really good year.”
Following a rain delay and a red flag of almost 31 minutes after the race’s halfway point, Smith was able to get the lead from the two race favorites, Busch and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin, to capture the lead in his No. 7 Fire Alarm Services Chevrolet. And he didn’t look back from there.
“It’s all about track position,” Busch said. “It’s everything, and I didn’t have it.”
Following a lengthy run in Dover’s NASCAR XFINITY Series history that saw NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars earn wins in the lower series, 2015 has told quite a different story. Fans have been treated to wins from XFINITY regulars Chris Buescher in the spring, and now Smith this weekend.
“Kyle Busch is the man here,” Smith said. “I said earlier that I didn’t know if I could run with him or Denny [Hamlin]. I wanted to see if we could keep up with them. As the restart played out, we had to earn [the lead]. But yeah, you know any time you beat the Gibbs cars, you’ve worked your tail off.”
Jason Burdett, crew chief for the No. 7, said he was surprised they were able to get ahead of the Gibbs duo, but knew his car was good enough if it got track position.
“The first half of the race, obviously, [Hamlin] and [Busch] were the class of the field,” Burdett said. “The clean air makes such a big difference. I knew if we got out into clean air that we had an opportunity.”
The win, paired with a 28th-place finish for Ty Dillon, moved Smith into third place in the standings, 36 points behind XFINITY Series leader Buescher.
Hamlin and Busch finished second and third, respectively, with Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson rounding out the top five.