By Matt Weaver (DOVER, Del. –) The championship battle is heating up with the summer in the NASCAR Nationwide Series as points leader Regan Smith posted a top-10 but was unable to widen his lead following the Buckle Up 200 at Dover International Raceway.
That’s because each of those chasing him all finished ahead of him, eating away at Smith’s overall advantage. Smith leaves Delaware with a four point margin over Elliott Sadler, 22 over Chase Elliott with Trevor Bayne and Ty Dillon 27 and 34 behind respectively.
Bayne finished second to race winner Kyle Busch on Saturday and believes consistency, given the schedule and talent in the division, is just as important as winning races in regards to chasing a championship.
“Well I think consistency is going to pay off, especially when we get to the road courses, another restrictor plate race,” Bayne said after Saturday’s race. “As close as we are, within 30 points, one bad race for the leaders could bring us right back.”
He was the championship leader for much of the early part of the season until a mechanical failure last weekend, at Charlotte, sent him into the wall and from a comfortable lead to nearly 30 points out. Elliott rebounded on Saturday with a fifth-place finish and gained six points on Smith but believes he should have been fighting for the win and earning points that Busch isn’t even eligible for in the first place.
“We need — I need to do a better job because I’m the difference maker,” Elliott said. “These cars are so close and I don’t think Kyle has any better of a car than we do but I just think he did a better job today. That’s when I get mad at myself because I know I can do better.”
Elliott agreed with Bayne that consistency given the variety of tracks during the mid-season gamut will be pivotal towards the season championship.
“We’re going through this summer stretch where we go to all these different race tracks, we go to Michigan where I’ve never been before with a lot of grip and we go road racing,” Elliott said. “So we’ve got to be good at all these different places as we can and basically do better than what we did today.
“Otherwise, we’re going to have a lot of work to do.”
The top-10 in NASCAR Nationwide Series standings can be found below.
- Regan Smith Ldr.
- Elliott Sadler -4
- Chase Elliott -22
- Trevor Bayne -27
- Ty Dillon -34
- Brian Scott -57
- Brendan Gaughan -107
- James Buescher -116
- Chris Buescher -120
- Dylan Kwasniewski -145