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Smith takes Nationwide points lead to Michigan
Brooklyn, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - After taking last weekend off, the Nationwide Series returns to action on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.
Michigan begins an 18-race stretch on the 2014 Nationwide schedule. The series will compete each week until the middle of October.
Regan Smith currently holds a four-point lead over Elliott Sadler. Two weeks ago at Dover, Smith finished 10th, while Sadler placed one spot ahead of him in ninth. Both drivers have one win each this season.
"It was good to have a weekend to take a breath before we hit this long summer stretch," Smith said. "We've run well, but we can do better, and the competition is fierce this year. Every race is going to matter before it's all said and done. So it's important we get all we can every weekend."
Smith won last year's Nationwide race at Michigan. Gambling on fuel in the late stages, Smith led the final 14 laps en route to his second win of the 2013 season and third overall in Nationwide competition.
"Heading back there as the defending race winner gives you a lot of confidence," he said. "It's a wide track with a lot options as far as what line you want to run. Typically, the race will go green, so pit strategy will definitely come into play, making it anybody's race to win."
In nine Nationwide at Michigan, Sadler has scored two top-five finishes and six top-10s.
"Michigan can be a very fun track to race at because we have so many opportunities to pass, and you can carry your speed throughout the entire racetrack," Sadler said. "Our team has been working really well together this season, and hopefully we can grab the points lead this weekend."
Rookie Chase Elliott, who is Smith's teammate at JR Motorsports, is 22 points out of the lead. This will be the first time Elliott competes in a NASCAR national touring series race at Michigan. He has two Nationwide wins to his credit this season.
"It will be a busy few months, but I'm personally looking forward to being able to race every weekend without the breaks in between," Elliott said. "For me, getting into a consistent rhythm is extremely important. With this stretch, I'll be able to find my groove."
Trevor Bayne moved to within 27 points of Smith after finishing a season-best second at Dover. Rookie Ty Dillon trails by 34 points.
Forty-three teams are on the entry list for the Ollie's Bargain Outlet 250. Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Larson, Joey Logano and Paul Menard are those Sprint Cup Series regulars scheduled to compete in this race. Sam Hornish Jr. is expected to make his third Nationwide start of the season at Michigan. Hornish won last month's race at Iowa.
Series: NASCAR Nationwide. Date: Saturday, June 14. Race: Ollie's Bargain Outlet 250. Site: Michigan International Speedway. Track: 2-mile oval. Start time: 2 p.m. ET. Laps: 125. Miles: 250. 2013 Winner: Regan Smith. Television: ESPN. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.
06/13 16:12:30 ET
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