JR Motorsports driver Regan Smith won the first round of the Dash 4 Cash last Saturday at New Hampshire, collecting a $100,000 bonus from series title sponsor Nationwide Insurance and qualifying himself for the chance to win $1 million. If Smith can win the first three rounds of the D4C -- New Hampshire, Chicagoland and Indianapolis (July 26) -- and the Aug. 2 Iowa race outright, then he will be awarded an extra $600,000 - totaling $1 million.
"Our team was pumped to win that first round of the 'Dash 4 Cash' last weekend, and now we have another shot at it again at Chicago," Smith said. "It's a really cool program that Nationwide has put together, and everyone wants to be part of it. I'm grateful to be one of the four competing again."
Smith and the top-three finishing Nationwide Series regulars at New Hampshire -- Chris Buescher, Elliott Sadler and Brian Scott -- qualify to compete for the $100,000 bonus in Saturday night's 300-mile race at Chicagoland. Smith is the only one of the four drivers who qualified for the first round to make it into the second round. Jeremy Clements, Ryan Reed and Ryan Sieg were eligible for New Hampshire based on their finishes in the July 4 race at Daytona.
Heading into Chicagoland, Smith holds an eight-point lead over Sadler and a 13-point advantage over rookie and JRM teammate Chase Elliott.
Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson are those Sprint Cup regulars scheduled to compete in this race. Kahne will be behind the wheel of the No. 5 Chevrolet for JRM two weeks after he drove that car to victory at Daytona. Larson is running a near full-season schedule in the No. 42 Chevrolet for Turner Scott Motorsports.
Sam Hornish Jr. will make his fifth Nationwide start of the season, driving the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, which is normally occupied by Kyle Busch.
After winning his second career Truck Series race earlier this month at Iowa for Kyle Busch Motorsports, 18-year-old Erik Jones is scheduled to make his Nationwide debut at Chicagoland, driving the No. 20 JGR Toyota. JGR plans to have Jones in that car for the upcoming Nationwide races at Bristol and Phoenix.
"I'm really looking forward to the start I get in the 20 car," Jones said. "I know it's a great team, and there are some expectations there. But at the same time, they're obviously a little different for me just making my first couple starts in the Nationwide Series. At the same time, I'm wanting to go out and show them that I can do it and run well in the Nationwide Series and hopefully show that we can go out and be competitive."
Forty teams are on the entry list for the EnjoyIllinois.com 300.
Series: NASCAR Nationwide. Date: Saturday, July 19. Race: EnjoyIllinois.com 300. Site: Chicagoland Speedway. Track: 1.5-mile oval. Start time: 8:30 p.m. ET. Laps: 200. Miles: 300. 2013 Winner: Joey Logano. Television: ESPN2. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.