Various drivers talk about how they ran during the Smith's 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Matt Crafton comments on his chance at a win dashed again, while others comment on strong top-five finishes.
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Bruton Smith, the founder of Speedway Motorsports Inc. and a 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, battled non-Hodgkin's lymphoma earlier this year, according to quotes provided by SMI officials. Smith, 88, is Executive Chairman of SMI. The company owns eight facilities that host 13 of this year's 38 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events. Smith is on hand this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, site of Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race . It is his first appearance at one of his company's facilities since late May. "The doctors said I probably needed a bit of rest and I got that," Smith said. "And I probably needed it." Smith's son, Marcus, was named Chief Executive Officer for SMI earlier this year, with the elder Smith named Executive Chairman. Marcus Smith said the family discussed publicly addressing his father's illness but noted, "We're private about personal matters." Now that his father's prognosis is positive, Marcus Smith said the family decided to explain his father's recent absence. "I'm really excited about this weekend because Bristol was a goal. … The time was such that it was a good goal to try to hit to be healthy and strong," Marcus Smith said. The most recent reports concerning his father's health "have been really good," Smith said. "He's progressed beyond expectations they all had and we're very thankful about that … and they have given a really good prognosis on his health." In May, Bruton Smith was selected as one of five members for induction into the Hall next January. Others tabbed for induction are drivers Jerry Cook, Terry Labonte , Bobby Isaac and Curtis Turner. "I hate to miss any of our races," Bruton Smith said. "I really do. It's kind of heartbreaking really. I like to be there and see what's going on. "I enjoy what I do. I like the automobile business ( Smith's Sonic Automotive is one of the largest automotive retailers in the U.S.). I'm into that. I love the racing business. I want to do more and more and more. … I just like what I do."
Regan Smith 's final lap maneuver for the win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday was met with praise and outrage alike from fans. Some called Smith's move, which bumped then-leader Alex Tagliani out of the way, a necessary part of racing, while others deemed it dirty. RELATED: Tagliani says he doesn’t respect Smith’s win Smith's JR Motorsports car owner Dale Earnhardt Jr . addressed the last lap frenzy during his weekly "Dale Jr. Download" show on Dirty Mo Radio Tuesday. "I myself have to say in all the decades of stock car racing, that move has been made millions of times,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “And it will be made millions of times after. It’s part of stock car racing, you know. They have bumpers and fenders and if it's the last lap and that's the lap that pays, and if you get moved out of the way, sometimes it’s not fun being on that end of it. "But if you’re going to win the race, it’s definitely worth it in my opinion." Junior went on to cement the difference between Regan’s move and wrecking someone for the win on the final lap. "I don’t believe in spinning a guy out, I don’t believe in putting a guy in the fence," Earnhardt said. "But if I can move you out of the way to win the race and hey, you come home second, third, somewhere in the top five, that's just how it goes. I'm sorry. "And I wouldn't be happy if I was Tag because that’s definitely no fun to lose that way. But that's always kind of been part of our sport. So, I'm not making excuses for Regan." Earnhardt also explained that Tagliani's last-lap driving style left the door open for Regan to make a move, whether it was welcome or not. For the team owner, it came as a surprise that Tagliani, as dominant as he was, didn't put more distance on the No. 7 machine in the final minutes. "On that last lap, Tag was underdriving the car quite a bit and then I think when he noticed he was underdriving it, he went into whatever the hell that corner is and overcooked it in the entrance of that corner and got loose," Earnhardt said. "You can see his hands in the car moving -- 'swattin’ flies' is what I called it on Twitter. But you can see him chasing the back of the car into that corner and he missed the line completely. "And that’s an invitation in stock car racing. I know that's not how they drive in open-wheel, but it's how they drive in stock cars." For Smith, the element of career uncertainty also played part in his decision to move Tagliani out of the way for the win, Earnhardt said. The former Sprint Cup Series driver hadn’t won in 52 races and his contract with JR Motorsports expires at the end of the season. "Regan's definitely working for his future," Earnhardt said. "He's a guy that's trying to claw his way back into the Cup Series. And he's got to try and do what he needs to do for himself." Earnhardt then likened Regan's move to one that a now-famous Sprint Cup Series driver performed more often than his competitors preferred. "I had a driver before Regan that would move a guy out of the way to win if he needed to win the race," Earnhardt said with a chuckle. “And that was Brad Keselowski . And look where he ended up." Earnhardt, Keselowski and the rest of the Cup Series drivers have a busy few weeks ahead of them, as they prepare to go short-track racing at Bristol this weekend (Aug. 22, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) before heading over to Darlington during Labor Day weekend. In honor of the track moving back to the race's traditional Labor Day weekend slot, the Darlington race weekend has taken on a old-school theme, with several drivers wheeling throwback paint schemes. "Darlington’s going to be a bit of a throwback weekend," Earnhardt said. "I think even the broadcast is going to go throwback -- I've heard some good things from Steve Letarte about that." The No. 88 driver also hinted that his team will be unveiling several new schemes in the near future. "We've got a throwback paint scheme that we’re going to unveil soon. We've got all kinds of crazy stuff happening with paint schemes," Earnhardt said. "Everything next year might be new. Been doing a lot of work with that and seeing a lot of cool ideas. So, I'm excited to share all that as soon as we can."
Jennifer Jo Cobb loses a tire and makes hard contact with the wall bringing out a late caution during the Smith's 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Ron Hornaday Jr. makes contact with Brennan Newberry but avoids major contact in the Smith's 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
James Buescher and Ross Chastain make slight contact on pit road, causing tempers to ignite on pit road during the Smith's 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Timothy Peters takes the checkers and wins the Smith's 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Brennan Newberry's tough night continues as he spins for a third time collecting Matt Kruszewski during the Smith's 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
WATCH: Different view of scrap " Contact that started scuffle WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- There was no mistaking Regan Smith 's purposeful stride down pit road or the look in his eyes following Saturday's Zippo 200 at the Glen XFINITY Series race. Sure that he had been manhandled on the famous road course, Smith, 31, stopped at competitor Ty Dillon 's car, leaned in and grabbed Dillon, 23, by the front of his uniform, confronting him about an incident between the two in Turn 1 on a Lap 40 restart. The two championship contenders pushed and shoved and shouted angrily at each other, promising retaliation down the road before NASCAR officials and various team members stepped in to separate them. Both Dillon's father, Mike, and his grandfather and team owner, Richard Childress, came to the scene. Smith eventually was pulled away and made his way back to the garage area still fuming. Because of their championship points position, Smith's JR Motorsports hauler was parked only two spots away from Dillon's Richard Childress Racing hauler. Dillon's older brother, Sprint Cup Series driver Austin, stood outside while his brother went into change out of his race uniform. "I got dumped in Turn 1, it's pretty simple and I'm not the only one he dumped today," Smith said of Ty Dillon. "I may have lost the championship today, but he sure as hell did, too," Smith told reporters walking away from pit road after the race. "There's zero chance the 3 car (Dillon) wins the championship. And I'm going to make sure of it." Both Smith, a former Sprint Cup Series race winner, and Dillon, in his second year in the XFINITY Series, had other run-ins during the race -- with their teammates. Smith was hit by fellow JRM driver Chase Elliott early in the race. And Dillon spun out RCR teammate Paul Menard . "I wanna say, first, I'm sorry to my RCR teammates and the 7 guys ( Smith's team) for my mistakes, I'm truly embarrassed, I deserve anything said," Dillon said on Twitter after the race. "I will not take anyone pushing me around after a race; that takes it to another level. All that said, another top 5 -- gotta keep up the finishes." See Ty's tweets: Dillon tweets after brawl with Smith The damage from Smith's incidents relegated him to a 20th place finish, while Dillon finished fifth. Dillon explained the accident with Smith and assumed the blame. "I got a good run, cut to the inside; it's the first time I've done that here at this race track," Dillon said. "I've seen people ... do it. I just didn't complete it. It's as simple as that. I made a big mistake, got to wheel-hopping and there's no saving it. I did it two times in a row; I'm very disappointed in myself for doing that. "Not only did I tear up everyone else's car, but I tore up mine as well. Very apologetic about that, but not about after the race." Told that Dillon had been remorseful about hitting Smith, the veteran responded, "Of course he was, he came out of all of them [accidents] unscathed." MORE: NXS drivers points standings The eventful day was costly in the standings for Smith. Dillon is now tied with Elliott in second place, 24 points behind leader Chris Buescher . Smith remains in fourth place but now trails Buescher by 57 points after being only 39 behind before the race. Smith trailed third-place Dillon by 18 points entering the weekend and is now 33 points behind his rival headed to next week's road course event at Mid-Ohio -- the second of three road course races in August for the XFINITY Series.