Dylan Kwasniewski

Regan Smith pushes Alex Tagliani out of way to steal Xfinity win at Mid-Ohio

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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.”

MORE: Xfinity points standings

MORE: Race results

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

Canadian driver Cameron Haley steadily improving as rookie in Truck Series

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Look at a list of drivers competing in NASCAR’s three national series and you’ll soon notice why Cameron Hayley is unique.

Most hail from the United States with a few exceptions. Daniel Suarez and Carlos Contreras are from Mexico and primarily compete in the Xfinity Series, but when it comes to drivers that call Canada home, only three drivers can make that claim.

One of those is Hayley.

While Mario Gosselin and Derek White race in Xfinity, Hayley, a native of Calgary, Alberta, is the only Canadian competing in the Camping World Truck Series.

Hayley, 18, is in his rookie season in the Truck series, having driven the No. 13 Toyota for ThorSport Racing in the first four races of the year.

“Obviously we don’t have almost any drivers coming up from Canada into the national series,” Hayley told media Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “It was difficult for me coming up, moving up through the ranks.”

Hayley said his fortunes began to change when he won the 2013 K&N Pro Series’ UNOH Battle at the Beach in Daytona. Driving for Gene Price, Hayley was one of six Canadians in the race that also featured Kyle Larson, John Hunter Nemechek and Ben Kennedy.

Hayley won on a last-lap pass in Turn 4 as he banged against the door of Gray Gaulding crossing the finish line. It was the only lap he led. Combine the win with a move to the K&N Pro East Series and people started to know who the Canadian driver was.

In June of that year, Hayley was announced as a member of the 2013-14 NASCAR Next class, which included Suarez, Dylan Kwasniewski, Kennedy,  Brett Moffitt, Ryan Gifford and Gaulding.

“It does seem like a long time ago now,” said Hayley, who recently moved to Sandusky, Ohio, where ThorSport Racing is headquartered. “I mean, it was only two years ago, but when it comes down to it – I’ve done so much since then. I’ve done so many races since then that it seems like a long time ago for sure.”

Now Hayley is in a prime position to make his name even more recognizable.

Through four races, Hayley’s best finish came last week at Kansas Speedway. He claimed fifth position for his first top five in seven CWTS races. Since finishing 23rd at Daytona International Speedway due to a wreck, Hayley has steadily improved, finishing 14th at Atlanta Motor Speedway and 11th at Martinsville Speedway.

All four races were Hayley’s first at those tracks and Friday night’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway will continue that trend.

“Adjusting to all the different tracks and having all the tracks being new has definitely been difficult, but ThorSport has given me great trucks week in and week out,” Hayley said. “We’ve had great trucks and had some bad luck, and I think Charlotte is going to be another one where I have lots to learn, but I think we have a great truck here and can do well.”

It also helps to have two veteran teammates, Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter, in the ThorSport Racing stable.

Crafton, a native of Tulare, Calif., is the two-time defending series champion, and Sauter, a native of Necedah, Wisc., is a 10-time Truck race winner.

“I don’t really know him, he’s a rookie new to the deal – but I think he’s got a pretty good head on his shoulders,” Sauter said. “I see him doing things that maybe necessarily don’t see from a lot of rookie drivers and I think he’s taking care of his equipment and showing speed at the same time.”

Said Hayley: “I can study race tapes, videos all I want, but until to you talk to a driver you don’t really know a first-hand account of what’s happening,” Hayley said. “I haven’t been quite quick enough to run up beside them during races yet, but I think we’re getting there, and I think I can learn a lot from that as well.”