31. Regan Smith wins 2014 Nationwide race at Daytona; Dale Earnhardt Jr owns up to crash at end of race

Top 100 Local Stories of 2014 in Central Florida / Headline Surfer®

Regan Smith wins Feb 2014 Nationwide Race at Daytona / Headline Surfer®

Video by David Perticarari / Downloaded from YouTube / Headline Surfer® /
Published on Feb 26, 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series - 2014 Drive4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway. Last 2 laps -- green-white-checkered. Below, Smith's 7 crosses the finish line to win the by the second-closest margin in the Nationwide race at Daytona International Speedway.
 

Regan Smith wins the Nationwide race at Daytona in 2014 / Headline Surfer®DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Regan Smith got the bump-drafting help he needed from Trevor Bayne and beat Brad Keselowski to the finish line by .013 seconds to win February's season-opening NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway. 

The finish was the seventh closest in NASCAR Nationwide Series history and second closest at Daytona. The closest finish at the 2.5-mile superspeedway was Tony Stewart's victory by .007 seconds in 2011.

Rookie polesitter Dylan Kwasniewski ran eighth in his Daytona debut.

Smith was pleased with the win compared to the disaster of the previous year at Daytona when he crashed. "This time I wanted to see the checkered flag in a proper manner at Daytona and not be in the middle of a wreck," Smith said.

Regan Smith cewlebrates after winnuing 2014 Nationwide race at Daytona / Headline Surfer®Regan Smith was pleased with the win compared to the disaster of the previous year at Daytona when he crashed. 

"This time I wanted to see the checkered flag in a proper manner at Daytona and not be in the middle of a wreck," Smith said.

In a race that went one lap beyond its posted distance of 120 laps because of a late caution involving Chad Boat and Eric McClure, Smith got help from Bayne in the outside lane and crossed the finish line in his No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet less than three feet ahead of Keselowski, who was drafting with fourth-place finisher Kyle Busch.

Bayne ran third, as he and Smith side-drafted Keselowski and Busch in the inside lane just enough to give Smith a minuscule advantage. And Smith took the opportunity and ran with it.

The victory, Smith's fourth in the series and his first at Daytona, was a race of redemption for the 30-year-old driver, who was right in the middle of the last-lap crash in the 2013 season opener.

After the field took the checkered flag, Dale Earnhardt Jr. triggered a multi-car wreck by turning the No. 42 Chevrolet of 10th-place Kyle Larson.

Earnhardt offered no excuses for the mishap.

"We were coming to the finish line," Earnhardt said. "The 42 (Larson) was shoving me pretty good. I really didn't have anywhere to go. I got down on the apron. I was trying not to come back up on the race track, get quarter-paneled, have a big wreck there."

Earnhardt added stoically, "We were slowing down. I was looking all around trying to figure out where everybody was at. (I) ran into the back of the 87 (Joe Nemechek) and 39 (Ryan Sieg). Totally my fault. Really wasn't paying attention. I hate it for Joe and those guys 'cause they don't need to be tearing up race cars."

Regan's Smith's narrow victory at Daytona comes in at No. 31 in the HeadlineSurfer.com countdown of the top 100 stories of 2014.

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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories narly eveenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in Wst Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.