Bump and run: Regan Smith taps Tagliani out of way for XFINITY win
Regan Smith tapped road-course specialist Alex Tagliani out of the way on the next-to-last turn of the final lap on the road course at Mid-Ohio to earn his first XFINITY Series win of the season on Saturday.
And while Tagliani was upset about it, Smith said simply, "I did what I had to do."
Tagliani, starting from the pole and driving a Ford for Team Penske in a "one-off" race deal, finished second to the XFINITY regular.
"I’m very, very sorry for the whole Penske organization and the Discount Tire team," Tagliani said in a television interview on pit road immediately after the race. "They did a fantastic job for me this weekend and I really wanted to win for them so bad.
"If I knew he was going to try to win like that, instead of passing him fair and square early on in the race, I would probably have pushed him off a bit. But he knows I’m not going to be there next week to retaliate and to give him the payback. It’s just unfortunate to see him win like that, but then also to see him celebrate after a win like that … I mean, he knows he was not going to win unless he pushed us off."
Ty Dillon finished third, picking up points in the XFINITY championship race on leader Chris Buescher.
Smith, driving the No. 7 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, was upset a week earlier when Ty Dillon wrecked him on the road course at Watkins Glen. After that race, an angry Smith confronted Dillon on pit road and a scuffle ensued.
But Smith said he would have no difficulty celebrating his Mid-Ohio win, no matter how he got it.
"It feels great. These guys worked their butts off all week," Smith said. "This car was destroyed. They rebuilt it in one day, and I got my road car back.
"They’ve stuck by me. We’ve had a lot of opportunities to win. I hate to do that in the (next-to-last) corner, but it’s been a year and eight months (since his last win). It’s been too long and I wasn’t going to pass that opporutnity up. I’ve been wrecked so many times on these road courses that I had to do what I had to do there.
"I didn’t spin him. I just moved him to get the spot — and we’re going to celebrate hard tonight."