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Big difference for Smith

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A year ago, Regan Smith left Daytona International Speedway a shaken driver.

On Saturday, he left a winner.

Smith outdueled Brad Keselowski in a green-white-checkered finish and won the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 race by 0.013 of a second, the seventh-closest finish in Nationwide history and second closest at Daytona.

That was a stark contrast to the finish a year ago, when Smith led going into the final turn, but his attempt to block Keselowski caused a 12-car crash that sent Kyle Larson’s car into the fence and debris injuring 28 fans.

This time, Smith, running second to Keselowski’s Ford at the beginning of the restart, took advantage of a bump draft from Trevor Bayne, dived in front with his JR Motorsports Chevrolet in the final turn and won his first race at Daytona and fourth career Nationwide victory.

“Last year was a tough pill to swallow … nobody felt worse than me on Saturday night and Sunday morning,” Smith said. “We were fortunate that it all turned out well and we learned some stuff from that.”