Smith sees Nationwide progress

May. 24, 2013 @ 09:17 PM

In his first season as a Nationwide Series regular driving for Junior Motorsports, Regan Smith is happy with the team’s progress.

He has a win (a controversial one at Talladega), finished in the top 10 in seven straight races and is on top of the driver standings by 28 points over Sam Hornish Jr.
All of that does not make him the favorite in today’s History 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
That honor goes to Kyle Busch, who has dominated the Nationwide Series this season and Nationwide events at CMS in recent years.
In 19 CMS Nationwide starts, Busch has won six times, finished in the top-five 14 times and in the top 10 a total of 16 times, and has led 903 laps. This season, Busch has won five times in eight starts and doesn’t lead the points because he can’t earn them as a Cup driver.
Busch’s teammate, Matt Kenseth, and Smith’s teammate, Kasey Kahne, both have CMS Nationwide wins and are expected to be Busch’s main challengers.
With a victory, Smith would cement his status as a championship contender. Smith believes his team is not far from reaching its full potential.
“At the start of the season, we had a lot of unknowns because we hadn’t been together,” Smith said. “By the time we left  Daytona, the intensity we had and the chemistry we had, I think we were an 8 or 9 (on a scale of 10). But I think we are close to being a 10 although we may have to win 10 weeks in a row to be a 10. But, we have good chemistry and the guys are working their butts off. It’s been fun to watch.”

BACK IN THE FOLD
Richard Childress Racing announced Friday that it has signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with the Menard’s hardware stores that will keep Paul Menard as driver of the No. 27 Chevrolets in the Cup Series. Team owner Richard Childress said crew chief Slugger Labbe will also return.
Menard is in his third season with RCR. He has scored his only Cup victory in that span, that coming in the 2011 Brickyard 400.

PENALTIES UPHELD
A three-person NASCAR appeals panel on Friday upheld the four-race suspensions and $15,000 fines handed RCR Nationwide crewmen Thomas Costello and Michael Searce for fighting with members of Nelson Piquet Jr.’s team following a race last month at Richmond.
gsmith@hpe.com
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