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Smith wins $100,000, advances in Dash 4 Cash

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LOUDON, N.H. ? Regan Smith didn't pick up the victory Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. But the NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader still managed to pick up a healthy check.

Smith, one of four drivers competing in the first stop of this year's Nationwide Dash 4 Cash program, collected a $100,000 bonus for finishing highest among the qualified Nationwide Series drivers.

"Can we get it in cash?" the JR Motorsports driver joked after finishing 10th in the Sta-Green 200 at NHMS.

"No, that's good after our day to still get that. The race was disappointing for us. ? I thought we were a lot better last year. ? The last pit stop (during a caution for debris at lap 141), we go for four (tires); had a little hiccup. At that point, you know the situation."

Before the stop, and for much of the race, Smith ran in front of the other three Dash4Cash qualified drivers ? Ryan Reed, Ryan Sieg and Jeremy Clements. Just past haflway, Sieg and Clements were a lap down. 

But the final pit stop allowed Reed to beat Smith off pit road, and restart seventh, while Smith was ninth.

Smith worked quickly, however, to get back around Reed and into the beneficiary position.

Smith's top-10 helped him maintain the points lead; Elliott Sadler, sixth in the race, trails Smith by eight after 17 races. 

"I gave him too much room through (turns) one and two on that last restart and he got me really loose up top," Reed said of his battle with Smith. "The ? second seam was really loose and I got in the second seam and it hurt us really bad. I hate that we didn't give him more of a battle there but ? I am proud of my guys and how far we have come this year." 

As the highest finishing driver among the four eligible in Saturday's race, Smith also automatically becomes qualified for the next stop of the program, slated for July 19 at Chicagoland Speedway

Chris Buescher (fifth), Sadler, Brian Scott (seventh) are now eligible as well. 

"I was concerned, but I was sure," Buescher said of the team's decision not to pit during the final caution, "that if they said do it, I was pretty confident. It was an awesome call."

The decision gave Buescher the lead ? he had been 10th before the yellow ? and although he lost spots quickly, he managed to remain in the top five.

"I guess the fact that we were on older tires was definitely concerning, and knowing that everybody behind us had been fast all day," he said. "It was a very risky move that worked out really well. We lost a couple of those spots pretty quick but were able to hold on and maintain and actually picked up some speed being in better air and finding some other things with the car during our last adjustment." 

"Man, it's cool what Nationwide does for this series, they really put a lot of focus on our own drivers, on our own teams, and it's great for the sponsors," Sadler said. "I'm honored to run for the $100,000 next weekend."

Smith is now eligible for an additional $600,000 bonus if he is the highest finishing eligible driver in the three remaining events, and wins the fourth and final race in the program at Iowa. 

Sprint Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski won Saturday's race, leading 152 of 200 laps. Sprint Cup drivers Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Larson finished second through fourth respectively.

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