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Regan Smith! Winning the Southern 500 over Carl Edwards in a thriller. But another feud erupts -- Kyle Busch vs Kevin Harvick

  Regan Smith finally scores his first big NASCAR tour victory, in the legendary Southern 500 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern


   Regan Smith, one of the really good guys in this sport, held off Carl Edwards the last two miles and pulled off a surprising win in the final moments of the Southern 500 in a green-white-checkered finish to the four-hour classic, making the gamble on not pitting while most of his rivals did pit and taking advantage of that track position to score his first ever Sprint Cup tour victory.
   But Smith will have to share the headlines with another NASCAR temper-tantrum, this one involving Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch, who have a bit of angry history – remember Harvick deliberately booting Busch in the final miles of last year's season finale at Homestead.

   Just after a restart with about six miles to go, Harvick was running sixth, and Busch made a move to pass Harvick, and the two brushed each other. Clint Bowyer, Harvick's teammate, jumped to the inside of the two, making it three-wide off the corner. And the track simply wasn't that wide. Bowyer bounced off Harvick and careened down into the inside wall, bringing out the yellow. Here's the video of that incident and the aftermath: http://bit.ly/kiZwnY

    A late race three-wide run-in with Kyle Busch sent Kevin Harvick (29) into the wall, and into an angry tizzy (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   That set up the green-white-checkered, with Smith – who lost a dramatic race at Talladega in 2008 to Tony Stewart – and Brad Keselowski side by side, just ahead of Edwards. But Edwards had fresher tires, and Smith in fact spun his tires on the restart, which is usually a race-killer.
   But Keselowski – whether or not because of his own history with Edwards – helped Smith with a bump-push on the restart, and that helped foil Edwards for a moment.
   Smith managed to take a two-car-length lead before Edwards could clear Keselowski.
   However Edwards still figured to have the car and the position to win.
   "When I drove down into turn three the last lap, I really planned on driving right by him," Edwards said. "But his car stuck a lot better than I expected. I was looking for a drag race to the finish line.
   "I definitely under-estimated that last restart. I said 'Don't beat him to the line,' because I knew I'd have an advantage with newer tires."


And that Harvick-Busch run-in sent Clint Bowyer hard into the inside wall (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   Smith, whose team runs out of Denver, Colorado, amazingly enough, is in his second season with the operation, reorganized this season with Joe Garone the team manager and Pete Rondeau as crew chief.
   "There have been so many ups and downs in my career, so many times I've said 'What's my next move?'" Smith said. "At the end of 2008 I didn't have a ride. But then I got this one, and they've stayed behind me. At times last year I was half-afraid they'd fire me, but they stuck with me.
    "Really, when I walked to the car before this race I really thought I could win this race. I've thought that at every race this year."
   In fact Smith, Garone and Rondeau have been one of the big stories this season, though not played out in the media as much as it should have been. They have been running top-10 nearly every week, though dogged by bad luck.
   Rondeau, once Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s crew chief, declined to call this win vindication, but it certainly was, as big a change as Rondeau has made with Smith. One of the big changes has been Smith, mentally. Until this year, he was pressing too hard.
    Now he says he's more comfortable with things, and more confident....even if he was a 500-to-1 pick in Las Vegas for this race. "To win this race, to beat Carl Edwards, it's a Cinderella story," Smith said. "I never thought I might get that Talladega 'win' back, but this means so much more than even that win would have. Now everybody can notice how well we've been doing."

    An angry Kevin Harvick, on the run to the NASCAR hauler, after a run-in with Kyle Busch took him out of contention (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Edwards went over to Smith's car after the race and congratulated him, a magnanimous move: "You've got to congratulate Regan, because this is a big deal, and I told him that.
       "Regan is a heck of a guy. And as upset as I am to have lost that race, Regan is as good as any driver out there, and it was just a matter of time before they put a whole race together. All of us may have underestimated them. But no longer."
   Edwards was just one of several drivers who made the unusual move to go to victory lane to give Smith a pat on the back.
   However, the Harvick-Busch flap will certainly keep everyone's attention too the next few days...particularly with next week's Charlotte All-Star no-points race coming up.
   This Harvick-Busch incident didn't end on the track. After the race, as they drove toward pit road, Harvick blocked Busch's car, triggering another incident. Busch tried to push Harvick's car out of the way, in a move that some saw as not only ill-advised but dangerous. Harvick got out of his car and went to Busch's car – the safety net was down -- and threw a punch. Busch drove off.
   That brouhaha drew both men a call to the NASCAR hauler to discuss things.
     Harvick, when he emerged from the brief talks, offered little:
   "Obviously we were racing hard and doing what we had to do there at the end, and things happen.
   "That's it. What do you do? That's racing, I guess."
    And what was discussed?
    "Not much.
    "I don't have anything really to tell you other than not much."
    So it's over?
    "You saw the end," Harvick replied.
    And Busch?
   "It was tight racing after the restart," Busch said. "Harvick is up there on the top, a little bit loose, and I had a run, and I gave him room. He kind of came off the wall."
    Busch said the TV replay he saw offered "a bad angle."
   And he gave his version: "He (Harvick) lifted early to let me go into turn three, and I thought it was all good. Then he drives into the back of me. He made my car loose all the way through the exit (turn four), and made a run for those guys to get back on my inside.
   "Clint wrecked bouncing off Harvick.
   "It was just uncalled for, and just unacceptable racing. It's the last couple of laps, but I gave him room off two, and I didn't get the room (in return).
   "(We) came off turn two...and I was on his inside, and under the white line, trying to give him room, and we made contact off two, and as we raced down the backstretch we touched again. Getting into turn three Harvick lifted early, and then he throttled back up, or let off the brake or something, and hit me getting into turn three, and pushed me through the corner where I got loose....
   "I was really slow off the corner, where Harvick and Bowyer got back to inside at the exit. As we came off the corner all three of us made contact."
   And after the race?
   Busch: "I was just cooling down, and talking on the radio, and I see the Harvick car come up flying up on my inside through three and four.
   "Instead of going to pit road I thought he was going to force me into the inside of the pit road wall. So I gave myself a bit of room, and turned up like I would for another cool down lap. And he followed me.
   "When he pulled up next to me, I tried to back up. I put my car in reverse, and I blew reverse out of the transmission. So I had to pull forward and do a U-turn to get back to pit road.
   "I was just trying to get away from the situation with Harvick. Unfortunately he got to pit road before me. I knew if I tried to turn left or right he was going to run into me, or block me, or something. I just stayed behind him; I was just going to sit there, and let him cool his head....
   "Instead of that, he wanted to get out of his car I guess and wanted to fight. I knew that wasn't going to be a good situation.
   "My choices were limited. I was either going to get punched in the face, and then wait for Harvick to get back in his car...or just drive through his car and push it out of the way...
   "I made a judgment call, and it wasn't one of the best choices I had, but I pushed his car out of the way. Unfortunately there were men walking down pit road. I hate that somebody could have gotten hurt, but I was just trying to get away from it and back to my hauler."
    NASCAR officials themselves had no immediate comment on the incident or any penalties they might consider.


     A beautiful night in Darlington, S.C., and a lot of hot action on the track during the Southern 500. Might make a good race track for the championship playoffs, eh? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   NASCAR has been trying, in vain it would appear, to handle a long-simmering dispute between Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Newman. Apparently Newman threw a punch at Montoya in the NASCAR hauler during a brief Friday meeting, though no one would confirm that. NASCAR would only say 'things didn't go as well as expected.'
   So what to expect NASCAR to be able to do with Harvick and Busch, who have had their share of run-ins, is also uncertain.
   One reason for the anger Harvick and Busch displayed was that both men had very good shots at winning. Busch dominated the first half of the race until a loose rear wheel forced him to pit road under green. That opened the door to his rivals, and the race quickly turned into an Edwards-Kasey Kahne battle over the final 30 miles.
    Then with 10 miles to go the yellow came out for Jeff Burton's blown engine.
    Surprisingly perhaps most of the 18 men on the lead lap pitted for new tires. Smith, Keselowki and Tony Stewart did not pit. Moments after that restart Harvick, Bowyer and Busch all crashed, bringing out the final yellow.
   "I didn't really contemplate staying out," Edwards said. "I thought about it, but I thought new tires would be such an advantage.
   "If I had more than a lap to work Regan over, I think we would have
run right by him. But we didn't get it.  It turned into a green-white-checkered and I was surprised."
   Edwards, who carries the Sprint Cup tour lead to Dover, Del., this week, figured he was in just the right spot for the final restart with two to go:

   "On the restart he spun the tires a little bit, and I thought 'All right, I'm not going to beat him to the line, but I've got a good enough car with fresh tires and  I can beat him.'
   "But Brad hooked on his rear bumper and they took off, and I thought 'Oh, man, I'm in trouble now.'"
   Smith, who at Talladega in 2008 finished first only to have NASCAR rule he went below the yellow line in passing Stewart, has had mixed emotions about so many things since then...until this season. Now he's shown a quantum leap in maturity and confidence.
   Did he see the Busch-Harvick melee?
   "I don't have a clue what happened behind me…other than Carl Edwards," Smith said with a laugh.
   "What I'm so proud of is what we've done with this team from Colorado. You have to enjoy the ups when you get them, and I'm smart enough to know that."
    And Edwards' take on the Busch-Harvick and Montoya-Newman controversies:
   "I haven't really paid much attention to the details of everything going on, but that's the passion of the sport.  I've been involved in my fair share of that stuff…and I'll just sit back and watch like everybody else and see what happens.
     "It is nice to just go out and race and to be upset after the race for finishing second and not being in an altercation with someone. But this is racing, and you're going to have stuff like that. All of us know that can happen at any time, and we're prepared."

   Results of Saturday's Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway






    Regan Smith (C) gets congratulations from Greg Biffle (3M) and Brad Keselowski (L) (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Why no mention of Kyle

Why no mention of Kyle deliberately hooking Kevin on the track after their altercation? Also, Kyle didn't just leave. He gunned his engine and gave the 29 a shove that sent it careening into the wall on pit road. That was a stupid, dangerous move. That's not exactly what you said. Thought you always told it like it is Mike. Disappointed.

Still trying to find all the

Still trying to find all the video and get all the quotes and reaction. As soon as I get something I'm adding it to the story, don't worry. No gloss here.

Harvick instigated this whole

Harvick instigated this whole ordeal, both on the track and after the race. Busch just put an end to it, although probably temporarily. Quit blaming Mike for your one sided view. If Harvick doesn't run into the back of Busch in between Turns 3 & 4, and then lean on him all the way down the straightaway, Harvick would have not wound up getting hooked. If he stays in his car until they get to the garage, his car never would have gotten shoved into the pit wall. It's not Harvick's way, though, as he always takes the punk route. He did it with Biffle in the Nationwide series, Ricky Rudd, and several others. It's just who he is. Kyle Busch is by no means perfect, but Harvick kept the fire going last night when he had plenty of chances to let it go. He did not, so quit pouting about how it turned out.

agree with above comment

agree with above comment 100%. looking forward to expanded version but those are very 2 key pieces! plus the fact kyles car never even wavered after kevin's little bump...also it appeared kyle was trying to hide (knowing he messed up and then couldn't back it up!)

Shrub is outta control. He

Shrub is outta control. He should get 6 weeks off and all of his points as well as a huge cash penalty.

The Bush brothers are just that... When he actually starts acting like a man instead of a spoiled 15 year old then perhaps hes ready to come play again.

Is it any wonder Nascar has become nothing more than WWF of Auto Racing? The new rule should be set so that you have to actually have a bit of maturity before you can race.

hahah Kyle and Kevin was

hahah Kyle and Kevin was funny as hell. I love how Kevin got out of his car to punch Kyle and then was like "where'd my car go?" ahahaha

The video tells us one thing.

The video tells us one thing. I want to hear the in-car audio for both Harvick and Busch from the checkered flag until they exited their cars.
Who was on the horn with these drivers and what was the message?
To all the idiots that feel 'manning up and throwin' down' is the right thing to do in life, have another Bud and go pass out somewhere. It's better to chew (DoubleMint) gum and walk away with your pride.

I agree. No mention of Kyle

I agree. No mention of Kyle deliberately taking out Harvick, who by the way had a very good car all night which you failed to even bring up with any specifics. This "threw a punch" thing that a few in the media are bringing up is weak. He could have been grabbing at him. It was definitely no wind up and take a swing punch. To me just another example of the media giving Busch more of a free pass than he deserves.

I think its time for Kyle to

I think its time for Kyle to put up, or shut up. He is the toughest guy in NASCAR when he is on the radio. He is the toughest guy in NASCAR when he is still in his race car. He is the toughest guy in NASCAR when he is surrounded by his crew/NASCAR. C'mon Kyle, you are such a badass, get out of your car and show us. Nothing but a chump. In Kyle's world, being tough means you crash a guy on the track, or you slam into his car when he isnt it, or you "talk it out" while NASCAR restrains Harvick. Kyle, do something, or zip it...

"My choices were limited" -

"My choices were limited" - Kyle Busch. Really? I guess putting the car in reverse, back up and then drive around him was nowhere in comprehension. Makes sense to me vs the alternative that he did. Good thing no one got injured, the #29 hit the wall hard. CONGRATS TO REGAN SMITH!!! Last year, I was saying he was a true dark horse and sure enough he came through with a win last night. Gutsy pit call by Pete Rondeau to keep him out. Is the #78 getting any other support from RCR beyond engines? Those RCR/EGR engines are proving to be tough (except for #31; engine failure). RCR's #29 & #33 were there as well til the accidents.

OK so Kyle deliberately

OK so Kyle deliberately hooked Harvick. That is usually what happens when someone goes at you relentlessly.
Most of the drivers have done it at one point or another. Harvick knows what to expect the next time he thinks that he can push him around. I guess its called race cred. What Harvick did after the race was to build up street cred. If Kyle got out and let himself get beat up by a bully, Harvick would have banked some street cred. Kyle didn't let him have it.
Kyle also did rev up his engine. I would imagine he thought that Harvick would have left his car in gear, necessitating a big push. Any how if you are going to walk around on pit road you should be alert for the unexpected. Harvick and his bullies shouldn't have been out there any way. You know he has to feel stupid looking back at the videos of what transpired. -KWP

Why no mention of Busch

Why no mention of Busch turning left into Harvick and hooking him, like he did to Edwards at Phoenix? Like Edwards did to BK at Gateway last year. That is why Harvick as mad! The Fox clowns would also not say anything about it, why does Shurb always get a pass when he does this type of thing? He does it all the time in the Trucks and Nationwide but no one calls him on it. I am sure this is not then end of it, Harvick will pick his spot and Shurb will pay dearly for it. My guess it it will happen a few times before this season is over.

kyle bush isnt too rowdy no

kyle bush isnt too rowdy no more. his new name should be the fastest chicken in the south thanks burt reynolds for making the movie stroker ace hahahahaha fastest chicken in the south he still fast at some thing RUNNING!!!!

From the video it looked like

From the video it looked like Kevin left the car in neutral, that is why it took off and kept rolling as fast as it did. If it was in gear it would of slowed. Busch is defenseless with the window net down and stuck in his car with his head exposed to being punched repeatedly. I call it self defense Busch leaving the scene. If you see a creepy person coming at you with his partner looking to beat you up or rob you, your natural reaction is to try to flee, thats what Busch did. He saw Harvick's crew member wanting a piece of him I am sure...2 against 1 is not exactly fair...

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