RELATED: See how Smith won at Mid-Ohio ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- Regan Smith used a bit of bumper two weeks ago to become NASCAR's most recent road-course winner, shoving road-racing veteran Alex Tagliani in the last lap at Mid-Ohio to take his first XFINITY Series victory of the year. With the final road-course race of the season looming at Road America , Smith said he doesn't have regrets about the late-race contact, which left Tagliani steaming with cross post-race words. "I think if you're in that same situation, you've got to do what you can do to go for wins," Smith said before opening XFINITY practice Friday at the 4.048-mile circuit. "I guess in that circumstance in that situation, I didn't wreck him, just had a little bumper tag there and we came out as the beneficiary of it. I have not spoken to Alex and didn't really figure he'd be in the mood right after the race to talk at all, so I think possibly down the road, we will. He's somebody that I've raced with a few times now and enjoy racing with him. I think he would understand the scenario of going for wins and doing what we've got to do there. "It's a fine line. There's wrecking a guy and there's moving him and getting the position. We see the moving all the time. It's not anything new. It's been done in our sport for a thousand times and a thousand more times in the future, I'm sure. The feedback I got from drivers, crew members, you name it, they thought it was a good move and they thought it was fine. I didn't really hear too much negative about it." Smith's victory helped bolster the JR Motorsports driver's case for a series championship. Though he ranks fourth -- 51 points behind series leader Chris Buescher -- he noted that plenty can change with 11 races remaining on the calendar. "I think we're still in it," Smith said. "We're racing like we're still in it, and the mindset is to go out and do everything we can to lead laps and win races. And if you're doing that, you close up on points even quicker than you can imagine." While the title fight for this season has ramped up, Smith has also kept a focus on making his 2016 plans final. His recent remarks about his potential free-agent status have sparked interest into what next season might hold, plus in which series he'll be competing. Smith reiterated his goal of returning to the Sprint Cup Series, where he's performed admirably in fill-in roles the last two seasons -- including three races this year in place of the suspended Kurt Busch and one race after Kyle Larson 's fainting spell on the eve of the first Martinsville race of 2015. "Working hard every day to figure out 2016," Smith said. "I think I've been clear for the better part of two and a half years now that I want to get back to Sprint Cup and do that at some point, so I'm fortunate to be in fast race race cars at JR Motorsports right now and have an amazing opportunity here and definitely don't take that for granted. At the same time, I want to give myself that opportunity to get back to the other series. As soon as all that stuff plays out and I have answers, then I'll given them as soon as I can."
NASCAR.com's Roshawn Brown recaps all the highlights as Paul Menard holds off Ryan Blaney to win at his hometown track of Road America.
Jeff Gordon says his crash at Indy was disappointing, but his team is going to fight for a win and a way into the Chase all the way through the race at Richmond.
RELATED: Full results from Bristol " Updated standings BRISTOL, Tenn. -- With Kevin Harvick hounding him mercilessly for 63 laps, Joey Logano kept his No. 22 Team Penske Ford out front after taking the lead on a Lap 438 restart and held on to win Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Successfully defending last year's victory at Thunder Valley, Logano won his third race of the season, his second at the .533-mile short track and the 11th of his career. Harvick recovered from two pit-road penalties to finish second, a mere .220 seconds behind Logano. Polesitter Denny Hamlin ran third, and Clint Bowyer got a much-needed fourth place result in his No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. RELATED: Ragan, Bowyer get turned at Bristol It was a fascinating chase over the final 63 laps, as Harvick would bury his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet into the corner at the top of the track, catch Logano in the turns and watch as Logano dived to the bottom on corner exit and pull away. "There's not much time to look in the rearview mirror, but I realized how different his line was than mine," Logano said. "He'd drive in so hard and almost get to my back bumper, and then I'd drive off really good. "It's kind of interesting to watch a race like that, when two cars are a similar speed, but in two completely different ways. That's what's so fun about Bristol is you can drive the car about five or six different ways and make it fast, so it's fun to race here." Harvick said Logano's ability to diamond the corner gave the Ford an advantage when it came to working traffic. "He was just one step ahead of me in traffic," Harvick said. "I couldn't get my car to rotate across the center like I needed it to, and every time I tried to force it, it would snap the back out. He was able to go in really high and before the center of the corner drive down the corner and I was just having to wait just a split second to be able to put the throttle back down, and I couldn't do that, that huge diamond all the way to the bottom like he could, and that was really beneficial for him through traffic… "He was able to get those huge runs up off the exit of the corner and just stayed one step ahead of me through traffic, I felt like, and in clean air we probably were a little faster, but it didn't really matter. I had to be in front of him to show that." Brad Keselowski came home fifth, followed by Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch , who led a race-high 192 laps but was hit with a pit road speeding penalty on his last stop under yellow on Lap 432. Logano took over from there and racked up 176 laps out front in a race that saw 14 lead changes among five drivers. The runner-up finish was Harvick's 10th of the season. Dale Earnhardt Jr . finished ninth, followed by Ryan Newman and Jamie McMurray , who solidified their positions in the fight for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berths on points. McMurray and Newman are 10th and 11th in the standings, respectively, the highest-scored drivers without a victory this season. Given that there have been only 11 different winners in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this year, at least three drivers are certain to qualify for the Chase on points. Kyle Busch , a four-time winner and 29th in the standings, also moved closer to locking up a Chase berth, padding his advantage to 46 points over 31st-place Cole Whitt . Busch, who missed the first 11 events of the season because of injury, must remain in the top 30 for the next two races to qualify for the Chase. Busch wasn't pleased when NASCAR flagged him for the speeding penalty, but he made a masterful drive from the rear of the field to eighth place. "I was proud of Kyle, keeping his cool and getting back up, because I think that gave us some more points, some more cushion there," team owner Joe Gibbs said. "I think he's doing a really good job of focusing and not losing his poise."
RELATED: Full results from Bristol " Updated standings BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Kevin Harvick became the first driver since 1972 to post double-digit runner-up finishes during the course of a season Saturday night, trailing race winner Joey Logano across the finish line in the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. The defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion had to overcome two pit road penalties to put himself in contention for the win, but was unable to reel in the Team Penske driver in the closing laps of the 500-lap event. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver took the disappointment of another near-win in stride. He's had worse finishes that weren't "near as cool as finishing second," he said. "I'm not frustrated at all because I've been on the other side of this fence, and you'd give everything in the world to finish second every week because it's not easy. This is a hard sport, and to go to all these different types of race tracks and see the success that the team has, I couldn't be prouder … because I know that at any moment you can rattle off two or three wins in a row at any type of race track, so it's fun." No driver had posted 10 or more runner-up finishes in a single season since Bobby Allison managed the feat in '72. Harvick became just the eighth driver to do so, joining Allison, David Pearson, Richard Petty, Ned Jarrett, Dick Rathmann, Joe Weatherly and Buck Baker. Pearson holds the overall mark, registering 18 second-place results in 1969. Harvick failed to lead a lap at BMS, but not for lack of trying. Starting seventh, the Sprint Cup Series champion had driven up to fourth by Lap 126 when Kyle Larson brought out the second caution of the night. But a violation for crewmen coming over the wall too soon dropped the No. 4 Chevrolet back to 22nd on the ensuing restart. He had raced his way back inside the top 10 by the halfway point of the race, and was in the top five at Lap 350. But another penalty, this one for speeding on pit road, dropped him back outside the top 10. With less than 70 laps remaining, Harvick was third on a final restart, taking second from Logano's teammate, Brad Keselowski , when the race resumed. "He (Logano) was just one step ahead of me in traffic," Harvick said of his attempts to track down Logano. "I couldn't get my car to rotate across the center like I needed it to, and every time I tried to force it, it would snap the back out." Logano called it "a very exciting last 20, 30 laps for sure." "I really thought we were going to be able to pull away because I thought we were really good in the long run, and then we didn't pull away," Logano said. "And I was like, ‘uh-oh.'" After the race, Rodney Childers, crew chief for Harvick, said he still didn't understand how his driver could get hit with a speeding penalty when driver Denny Hamlin wasn't cited for excessive speed. "He (Hamlin) was pushing us around the corner," Childers said. "(Kevin) said his speed went up like 300 RPM when he was pushing him. He was like, ‘Oh God, this is going to be close.' And we were speeding." Otherwise, Childers said, it was another good night for the defending champions. "The team overcame a lot of adversity this weekend, which is a plus getting ready for the Chase," he said. "We had a clutch problem this morning and had to change the master cylinder, the clutch … all kinds of stuff. Then to go through what we went through in the race and fight back. "The biggest thing is just Kevin drove his butt off to get back up there and everybody did a good job overcoming it." Runner-up finishes in a season Number Driver Year 18 David Pearson 1969 15 Bobby Allison 1970 14 Richard Petty 1964 13 Ned Jarrett 1965 12 Bobby Allison 1972 12 David Pearson 1968 12 Joe Weatherly 1962 12 Dick Rathmann 1953 10 Kevin Harvick 2015 10 Buck Baker 1958
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings BRISTOL, Tenn. -- It's a familiar scenario facing Ryan Newman as the Richard Childress Racing driver prepares for a two-race journey to lock in one of the 16 spots in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field. At this same point in the season last year, Newman sat ninth in points and was winless with two top-five and eight top-10 finishes. He eventually earned a Chase bid based on his points position, then parlayed the consistency that got him a berth into a ticket into the Championship Round, where he nearly became the series' first winless champion. Following his 10th-place finish in Saturday night's Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Newman finds himself 11th in points, with four top-five and 12 top-10 finishes thus far this season. He's also still searching for that first win, which would guarantee his status as a Chase participant. At Bristol, Newman and his No. 31 team, led by crew chief Luke Lambert, once again did what they have become nearly the best in the series at doing -- taking a car that wasn't particularly fast and earning a top-10 finish with it. "We weren't the best car all day," Newman said while standing beside the No. 31 Chevrolet on pit road after the race. "We kind of finished where we ran, if not just a little bit better. "It was a good run for the team. We took a 20th-place car in practice and qualifying and turned it into a top-10 (in the race). We were not the best car and we didn't win the race, but the guys did a good job in the pits and we made the race car better." Newman and the team hadn't shown speed on Friday, working their way to 26th- and 18th-place positions during the first and second practice sessions, respectively. At the end of the day, Newman logged the 18th-fastest time in qualifying for the series' 24th race of the season. Saturday night, Newman slowly made his way through the field, eventually cracking the top 10 well into the second half of the 500-lap race. Not having that initial speed when arriving at the track has been a problem, Newman admitted, but added that it's kept the team close as they battle to secure a Chase spot. "Yeah it's better when you start off the weekend better," he said, "but that's what makes us pull together as a team, find speed and … fight strong at the end." Newman, RCR teammate Paul Menard , Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates), Jeff Gordon ( Hendrick Motorsports ) and Clint Bowyer ( Michael Waltrip Racing ) currently hold the five final Chase positions with two races remaining -- at Darlington Raceway and Richmond International Raceway -- before the postseason starts. Newman, 37, is a six-time qualifier for the Chase, with last season's runner-up finish to Kevin Harvick a career-best points finish.
RELATED: Full series standings " Chase Grid BRISTOL, Tenn. -- In postseason terms, Aric Almirola is still an outsider, but not by much -- just 23 points behind Clint Bowyer , the final driver on the provisional Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff grid. It would be easy, if not exactly sporting, for Almirola to rejoice about Bowyer's short-term woes -- a 41st-place finish last week at Michigan -- and wider-scope issues -- the impending breakup of Bowyer's Michael Waltrip Racing team at season's end. While opportunities exist for Almirola to capitalize, he's not expecting his would-be Chase rivals to merely play out the string. "There are two ways to look at it," Almirola said after Friday's final Sprint Cup practice at Bristol Motor Speedway. "One is, yeah, they may be vulnerable and guys are kind of distracted and they're scrambling looking for jobs, but the other way to look at that is they don't have anything to lose, so they can push all the gray areas as hard as they can and be really aggressive and what's the worst that's going to happen? They're not going to lose their jobs because they're already looking for work. "There are a couple different ways to look at that and I think as hardcore racers as all those guys that he has on his team are, they're not gonna lay down; they're not gonna give up; they're gonna fight hard; they're gonna try and make the Chase. It's about pride. Everybody in this garage area has egos and we all want to beat our competitors and I doubt any of those guys, Clint included, are going to lay down." Almirola aims to gain more Chase ground, starting with Saturday night's Irwin Tools Night Race (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM), the third-to-last race of the Sprint Cup regular season. Besides Bowyer in front of him, he also has Kasey Kahne just three points off his heels with three unpredictable races -- Bristol, Darlington, Richmond -- looming on the schedule. The fickle nature of all three tracks presents the opportunity for wild points swings, but Almirola would prefer to get to the Chase on the merits of performance. Richard Petty Motorsports ' season-long search for speed in Almirola's No. 43 and teammate Sam Hornish Jr .'s No. 9 has made that a more difficult prospect. "We've had a few setbacks that were costly to us, but all in all we've had 15th-place cars and we've been running top-15 with them," Almirola said. "That's really all we can do. The guys back at the shop are working extremely hard and so is everybody else in the garage area to bring better cars to the race track every weekend. We've just been playing catch-up all year long. I'm really proud of everybody at RPM, but the moral of the story is we just need more speed in our cars and as we work harder and harder and continue to get more speed in our cars, our results will reflect that." One factor that has made matters trickier -- opening-day pitfalls in back-to-back race weekends. This Friday, Almirola made contact with the outside retaining wall in opening practice, forcing his RPM crew into repair mode to keep his primary car intact. But it hardly compares with last weekend's adversity, which left him ailing and infirm in Michigan's infield care center. After missing portions of practice last weekend, Almirola rallied for a 14th-place finish in the Pure Michigan 400 . This weekend, he's happy to leave his ailment several states away. "I'm back to 100 percent but my goodness was that rough," Almirola said. "I never felt so bad in a long time. I had some sort of 24-hour stomach virus and it was maybe a little longer than 24 hours, maybe 36 hours, and I was down for the count. I was laying in the infield care center on Thursday night from 11 to maybe 2:30 in the morning getting IVs and went back to the bus and got a little bit of sleep, but woke up every half-hour with throwing up or whatever and you know what the other is, so it was a long night. "I got back up the next morning and went back to get some more IVs and I watched the first hour of practice laying on my couch in my motorhome and it was all I could do to gather myself up and get over to the garage and make a couple laps at practice."
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Updated Chase Grid BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Austin Dillon raced with the big dogs on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, challenging race winner Matt Kenseth and showing that the No. 3 team has made progress in the past few weeks. In the eight races since the team switched to Slugger Labbe as its crew chief, Dillon has posted three top-10 finishes, including a career-best fourth place in the Pure Michigan 400 , where he led the second-most laps (19) to Kenseth. Dillon emerged from his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet SS on pit road on a day when temperatures inside the vehicles rose to above 150 degrees, and he asked for a towel to wipe off his face. And despite his reddish hue, the 25-year-old still pumped his fists and gave high-fives to crew. "Well I had fun," Dillon said. "We gained a lot of spots starting 43rd and got to fourth where we qualified. Just overcame a lot today. I'm proud of my guys. Slugger made a good call at the beginning. We kind of had made that plan to ride around and save fuel and it worked out for us." Despite qualifying fourth on Friday, Dillon had to start from the rear of the field on Sunday because of an engine change. In an effort to gain track position, the No. 3 team did not pit on the Lap 20 competition caution. The gamble paid off as Dillon was able to stay up toward the front, and by the time a restart came around on Lap 126 of 200, he was in a position to battle Kenseth for the lead. Kenseth and Dillon had a classic back-and-forth on that lap, but eventually the Joe Gibbs Racing driver pulled away and finished off the win. Kenseth was asked if he was surprised by the fact the No. 3 car was the one putting up a fight toward the end of the race. "I was a little bit," Kenseth said. "He had a really good restart, and we had a little touch there on (Turn) 4. I was a little frustrated, not with him, he didn't do anything wrong, but I was a little frustrated because I was like, 'Man, we got to get away because I got a really good car.' ... It was a challenge to get away from him and you needed to get those five or six car-lengths to get him in that bad air." Unfortunately for Dillon, a slow pit stop with 32 laps to go dropped him into fourth place. And despite the career-best finish, Dillon likely needs a win to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . After Michigan, Dillon was 83 points behind Clint Bowyer , who currently holds the 16th and final spot in the Chase. "We're showing some speed that's solid for us the last couple weeks to be able to compete if we were in the Chase," Dillon said. "That's nice to know. For me, I just wish we could have started this just a little bit earlier." Dillon still has three more chances to capture that elusive win, which would be his first in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. And the next stop on the schedule, Bristol Motor Speedway, is somewhere Dillon had some success with a top-10 finish earlier this season. "Really looking forward to Bristol," Dillon said. "We ran third there with four to go and ran out of fuel. So if we can go to Bristol and compete, I think we can win there. I'm definitely looking forward to that race." And it wouldn't hurt if Dillon got another key call from a crew chief that has helped him during the turnaround. "He's been awesome, man," Dillon said about Labbe. "I feel like I can compete in this series, and he's given me my confidence back. And it has been nice to work with him."
Only thing missing from this clip is Adam West RELATED: All content from @nascarcasm " Follow @nascarcasm Pow! Wham! Zap! Yes, sometimes we miss the days where Batman was hokey. So does @nascarcasm, who dusted off some of those old bat- fight words and 1960s music. Holy scuffle, Batman!
RELATED: Watch Smith's late pass to steal the win from Tagliani at Mid-Ohio LEXINGTON, Ohio -- Regan Smith ended a 52-race XFINITY Series winless streak in Saturday’s Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course -- but at what cost? That's the question runner-up Alex Tagliani , who Smith moved out of the way coming around the final corner of the 2.4-mile road course, found himself asking after the race. The No. 22 Team Penske driver, whose only scheduled XFINITY start this season came this weekend, felt that Smith's aggressive move was out of line based on how the two had raced throughout the event's 75 laps -- and it's something he won't forget. "The pass I put on Regan early on, it took a lot of time to put that pass in because I know he's working for the championship and he was very vocal about what happened last weekend so he seemed to be very aggressive, too," Tagliani said after the race. "I'm a little guy, so I didn't want to get into a fist fight . Knowing what I know now, I probably would've done a little bit less of an in-between pass, and it's really unfortunate what happened at the end. Take your point and walk away happy, but to celebrate this way ... winning this way is not winning for me. "From my perspective, there's going to be some bumpers. That's going to happen and I know that. The thing is, where I really don't appreciate is moving. I don't respect his win today. He didn't really try. He could've tried Turn 2 and put the fender on me and just moved me out of the way a little bit and get a run on the back straightaway. He could've bonsaied me going into Turn 4. He could've come out of 4 and just dove on the inside of (Turn 5). He could've done all kinds of things, but he never tried." The "last weekend" that Tagliani refers to is the late-race fracas between Smith and Ty Dillon , who finished third at Mid-Ohio and sided with Tagliani in their joint post-race press conference, when the JR Motorsports driver vehemently disagreed with Dillon's move on him that left Smith with a 20th-place finish. RELATED: Smith offers his side of Watkins Glen incident Thus, it's interesting that the roles were nearly reversed, and Smith saw things in a different light. To hear the two drivers each describe the final lap, it's like they weren't even at the same race. "We took the white flag, I made an adjustment inside the car with something I can do," Smith said. "Went into Turn 1 and pretty much sailed it in there because I at least needed to close it up and make him nervous. As soon as I got on his bumper, I noticed him start to get a little more squirrelly, a little bit more trouble through the corners and that allowed me to stay with him that whole last lap. We went through Turns 9 and 10 and that allowed me to stay right on his back bumper and was pushing him through there and just letting him know that I was there and right on top of him. We went in the carousel and he went to play it cautious ... and I pretty much went the speed that I thought I needed to go, which was a little bit faster than the speed he thought he needed to go and just kind of pushed him up the race track a little bit. I hate doing that to him; he's raced me clean throughout the years ... these wins are hard to come by and it’s been a long time since I've had one. I was pretty hungry and after last week, I was even more hungry. "The fact of the matter is, I moved him out of the way and he finished second. I didn't wreck him, I didn't spin him, I didn't do anything like that. Obviously, I don't expect him to be happy about that. I wouldn't be either. I've been on the receiving end of many of them here on these road courses. We had to take that opportunity." While Tagliani likely won't see Smith on the track for at least the rest of the season -- he has no other scheduled XFINITY starts announced, and Smith's plans for next year are still up in the air -- this one is sure to sit heavy on his mind for some time. He'll be waiting. "I thought maybe it was a mistake on my part, to think that because I'd (raced him clean) early in the race, he was going to race me clean until the end. I was unprepared," Tagliani said. "Next time I will be prepared."