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Risk vs. reward: Regan Smith plays it safe, finishes second in Nationwide race at Daytona

Jul 4, 2014, 11:32 PM EDT

(Photo: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

Regan Smith is no stranger to last lap wrecks, but in Friday’s Subway Firecracker 250, Smith made the choice to not risk wrecking and instead settled for a second-place finish.

In hindsight, it likely was the right move.

Had Smith, who led the most laps in the race (47 of 103), washed up the track at Daytona International Speedway, it likely would have created a huge wreck.

And his second-place finish would likely have been a lot further down the grid.

So, not only did Smith – who won the season-opening NNS race at Daytona in February – play it safe, he also regained the Nationwide Series points lead.

“I watched the replay and I blocked the 42′s (Kyle Larson) move and think if I’d gone up any higher, we’d probably all wreck there,” Smith told ESPN. “I had pretty good sized gap but at that point … I lost just enough momentum that it didn’t quite work out.”

But there was a silver lining for being, as Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights would say, the first loser.

“It was a teammate over there (in victory lane), so that’s pretty cool that Kasey got the win,” Smith said of JR Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne, who rallied from sixth place to win on the final lap of the green-white-checker finish.

“(Kahne) pushed me to the win last year (April 2013 NNS race) at Talladega, so it’s good to see him get one and JR Motorsports got a 1-2,” Smith said.

While he’s now back atop the NNS standings with a 12-point edge over former points leader Elliott Sadler, who finished 21st in Saturday’s race, Smith was a bit down but realized what he did in the charge to the checkered flag was a means to an end.

“I’m disappointed,” Smith said, “but part of getting out of here is just getting out of here and not having anything stupid happen. Not too bad.”

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