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Smith grabs Talladega win, Nationwide Series lead

The SportsXchange

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

Distributed by The Sports Xchange

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Regan Smith roared out of the pack during the final 400 yards of a green-white-checkered-flag finish and won Saturday's Aaron's 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Talladega Superspeedway as a last-lap multicar wreck erupted behind him.

Smith was the leader at the previous scoring loop when NASCAR called the seventh and final caution an instant before the cars crossed the finish line. Kasey Kahne was first across the stripe but was scored in third place behind Smith and Joey Logano.

Smith took over the series points lead in a race that was delayed three hours at the start because of rain.

Busch was leading on Lap 93 when contact between Sam Hornish Jr.'s Ford and Eric McClure's Toyota ignited a spectacular 12-car wreck that sidelined Hornish, the series leader entering the race, among others.

NASCAR then opted to shorten the race by 10 laps because of impending darkness, but four laps after a restart on Lap 101, Joey Coulter's contact with the outside wall caused the sixth caution and set up the two-lap dash to the finish.

On Lap 14, Danica Patrick spun off the bumper of series rookie Kyle Larson, her Turner Scott Motorsports teammate for a day and slid though the waterlogged infield grass, damaging her No. 34 Chevrolet extensively. After losing a lap on pit road, Patrick brought the car to the garage and called it a day.

Patrick, hardly a grizzled veteran herself, attributed the wreck to Larson's inexperience with the tandem racing that characterizes the Nationwide Series at restrictor-plate tracks. Larson, who was attempting to push Patrick's car when the wreck occurred, found trouble of his own on Lap 35, when he blew a tire, spun and took Jeffrey Earnhardt's Ford with him.

The hardest hit of the race, however, came on Lap 71 when pole-sitter Travis Pastrana nosed into the outside backstretch wall during a three-car incident that started when Brian Scott turned the Ford of Reed Sorenson.

Sorenson hit the outside wall and spun back across the track into Pastrana's path. Pastrana blamed himself for being in harm's way and for not reacting quickly enough when he saw Sorenson spin.

"I just get an award for being stupid," Pastrana said after leaving the infield care center. "We had the two fastest cars on the track (with Roush Fenway Racing teammate Trevor Bayne). We could have been a half-lap down just pushing each other, not worrying about anything.

"We all said we were going to sit back the whole race and then, all of a sudden, we're up there racing just like a bunch of fools up front. ... Everything kind of happened."
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