Smith Wins at Darlington: Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick Continue Battling After Checkered Flag

Regan Smith held off Carl Edwards on the final green-white-checkered restart on Saturday night to win the Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

[media-credit name=”David Yeazell” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]Smith stayed out while the leaders pitted after a caution flag on lap 359. Edwards took two tires while Smith, Brad Keselowski and Tony Stewart all gambled by staying out.

Smith got a push from Keselowski on the final restart, giving him enough of a lead to hold off Edwards in the final laps and win his first Sprint Cup Series race in 105 starts.

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As soon as the final green flag dropped, crew chief Pete Rondeau calmly guided Smith through the final two laps.

“This is the Southern 500! We’re not supposed to win this thing.” Smith radioed to his crew after the race.

“First of all, congratulations to Regan. He earned that. On the restart, he spun the tires a little bit and I thought, ‘Alright, I’m not gonna beat him to the line because I’ve got a good enough car with fresh tires. I can beat him here.’ And as soon as I started pedaling, Brad hooked on his rear bumper and they took off. I thought, ‘Oh, man. I’m in trouble now.’ I drove down into the turn real hard and Brad did a good job not wrecking underneath me and then we raced hard and he won the race.” Edwards said.

After the celebratory burn out, Smith returned to the radio and asked his crew to please bring him a hat to Victory Lane. He promptly followed that request up with question: “Where is Victory Lane?”

“I don’t know, replied Rodeau, I think it’s at the end of pit road, just follow the crowd.”

On lap 363, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch go three wide. Bowyer gets turned hard into the inside wall. Busch and Harvick continue on but Busch hooks the rear end of Harvick, spinning Harvick out.

Harvick was clearly upset and found Busch on the cool down lap while entering pit row. Harvick placed his car in front of Busch’s No. 18 on pit road. Busch waited until Harvick exited his car then pushed Harvick’s car out of the way, sending it into the inside pit wall while avoiding a punch from Harvick though the car window.

Busch drove his car down pit road to the garage, while Harvick walked. Both drivers were summoned to the NASCAR hauler.

Just uncalled for. Just unacceptable racing,” Busch said. “You know, it’s in the last couple of laps but I gave him room off of two, I didn’t get the room. Just real unfortunate. I hate we tore up a few good cars there.” Busch said.

As Busch headed to the NASCAR hauler, he said, “Good to hash it out now. Might as well.”

A few moments later Harvick sent a message to his fans via twitter: “Had a good car tonight, things got exciting at the end… I love racing.”

Brad Keselowski finished third, pole-sitter Kasey Kahne fourth and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five.

Tonight’s win makes Smith eligible for the Sprint All Star race in two weeks.

Unofficial Race Results
Showtime Southern 500, Darlington Raceway
May 7, 2011 – Race 10 of 36
============================
Pos. Driver
============================
1 Regan Smith
2 Carl Edwards
3 Brad Keselowski
4 Kasey Kahne
5 Ryan Newman
6 Denny Hamlin
7 Tony Stewart
8 Greg Biffle
9 Jamie McMurray
10 Martin Truex Jr.
11 Kyle Busch
12 Jeff Gordon
13 Marcos Ambrose
14 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
15 Jimmie Johnson
16 David Reutimann
17 Kevin Harvick
18 Bobby Labonte
19 Mark Martin
20 A.J. Allmendinger
21 David Ragan
22 Paul Menard
23 Juan Montoya
24 Dave Blaney
25 Matt Kenseth
26 Travis Kvapil
27 Kurt Busch
28 Ken Schrader
29 Landon Cassill
30 Casey Mears
31 Clint Bowyer
32 David Gilliland
33 Jeff Burton
34 Brian Vickers
35 Joey Logano
36 Tony Raines
37 Robby Gordon
38 T.J. Bell
39 J.J. Yeley
40 Mike Skinner
41 David Stremme
42 Joe Nemechek
43 Michael McDowell

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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