In October of 2008 Regan Smith was the first car back to the checkered flag at Talladega, beating Tony Stewart to the line. NASCAR deemed that Smith passed Stewart beneath the double yellow lines, and relegated him to an 18th place finish.
That didn't happen tonight as Smith beat points leader Carl Edwards back to the finish line, claiming his first NASCAR Cup Series win in the Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington.
"The car was good all night," he said. "Legends win this race. I'm not supposed to win this race. It just shows that anyone can win on any given Sunday."
Brad Keselowski finished third, Kasey Kahne came home fourth and Ryan Newman finished fifth. Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Jamie McMurray and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top ten.
Smith became the sixth first-time race winner at Darlington. The native of Cato, N.Y. won the 2007 Rookie of the Year award when he ran for what was then Dale Earnhardt Inc.
Smith drives for the single-car team Front Row Motorsports which is based out of Denver, Colorado. Front Row—the only team based west of the Mississippi—has to employ extra hauler drivers to transport their vehicles across the country. Every other NASCAR team is based in North Carolina, near Charlotte.
Edwards extended his points lead over five-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson to 23 points. Kyle Busch is third, 39 points back.
The final fifteen laps were bad for Richard Childress Racing. Jeff Burton lost an engine to bring out a caution on lap 357. On the ensuing restart with six to go, the field got up to speed and then Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick were involved in a wreck on the front stretch. Kyle Busch touched Harvick, causing Harvick's car to spin.
"The 18 just hooked me," Harvick radioed to his crew. A crew member radioed back for Harvick to keep his cool and pay back Busch at another time.
And he did.
Harvick and Busch traded bumps after the race as the field pulled into pit road. Harvick then got out of his car and walked over to Busch's car, as his car—unmanned—rolled into the pit stall wall, propelled by Busch's front bumper. The younger Busch, who won last night's Nationwide race, then drove off.
"It was uncalled for, just unacceptable racing," Busch said of the incident on lap 363. "I gave him room off of two, and he didn't give me any room off of four. I hate that it had to end that way."
Both Busch and Harvick were summoned to the NASCAR trailer after the race to speak with NASCAR officials.
Also, Goodyear announced today that they would not change the tire compound for the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 31st. Five drivers tested tires this week at the 2.5-mile track in Speedway, Ind.
NASCAR returns to Sunday next week when the Sprint Cup Series heads to Dover, Del., for next week's FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks.