Regan Smith doesn’t know where he’ll be next year.
It’s that fact, in addition to a 52-race winless streak in the Xfinity Series and a 57-point deficit in the driver standings, that drove him to use his bumper on pole-sitter Alex Tagliani and win the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio.
Smith forced Tagliani’s out of his way two corners from the finish and took his first series win since the 2014 season opener at Daytona.
“I don’t what I’m doing next year, yet, at this moment,” Smith told NBCSN. “That’s the other reason for the aggression driving. I want those wins when I can still get them.”
Competing in his only Xfinity race of the year for Team Penske, Tagliani wasn’t pleased with Smith’s driving temperament, which kept him from earning his first series win in eight starts.
“If I knew (Smith) was going to win like that, probably instead of passing him fair-and-square early on in the race, I probably would have pushed him off a bit,” Tagliani told NBCSN. “It’s really unfortunate to win like that, but also to see him celebrate after a win like that…he knows he wasn’t going to win unless he pushed us off.”
The JR Motorsports driver won with a No. 7 Chevrolet completely rebuilt after being in two wrecks at Watkins Glen International and finishing 20th last weekend.
“These guys worked their butts off all week,” Smith said. “This car was destroyed, door tops down. They rebuilt it in one day. The guys back at the shop, phenomenal job. My road guys, they’ve stuck behind me for awhile. We’ve had a lot of opportunities to win.”
This was Smith’s seventh top five of the year and second in three races.
“I hate doing that in that last corner,” Smith said. “It’s been a long time, I wasn’t going to pass up that opportunity up. I’ve been wreck so many times on these road courses, I had to do what I had to do there.”
HOW REGAN SMITH WON: Smith got close enough to Alex Tagliani in the final two turns to hit his rear bumper, sending him out of the race groove and opening the door to the checkered flag.
WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Darrell Wallace rebounded from a spin early into the dirt to finish eighth … Tagliani finished second after leading a race-high 38 laps … Ben Rhodes got stuck in the dirt off Turn 2 on Lap 20 and bounced back to finish 10th, his second top 10 of his Xfinity career … Ty Dillon and Chris Buescher safely raced each other in the closing laps and finished third and fourth respectively
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Kenny Habul helped create three cautions, the last on a restart with seven laps to go which collected Boris Said and Tomy Drissi. Habul finished 28th … Dakoda Armstrong spun while running 17th on Lap 38, damaging his left rear in the process. He finished 23rd … Dylan Kwasniewski stalled his car on Lap 41 to bring out the caution and finish 34th. … During the Kwasniewski caution, Said stalled on pit road, losing many positions and Daniel Suarez suffered damage to his left front after hitting Eric McClure … Said would then be spun out with 28 to go, then again in the crash with seven to go, leading to a 13th-place finish … Ryan Reed was 11 laps from his first top-10 finish since winning the season opener at Daytona when he and Justin Marks made contact in Turn 2, spinning Reed into the dirt where got stuck. Reed finished 22nd.
NOTABLE: Regan Smith gained six points on leader Chris Buescher in the driver standings … Darrell Wallace Jr. (eighth) was the highest finishing rookie.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “He knows I’m not going to be there next week to retaliate and give him the payback.” – Alex Tagliani after losing to Regan Smith on a last turn bump-and-run.
UP NEXT: Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 21 on NBCSN at 7:30 pm ET