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Random Race Recap: Garrett Smithley at Michigan

While fans could not attend the FireKeepers Casinos 400, those watching from home were treated to a show. (Photo credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The Random Race Recap for part one of Michigan International Speedway’s doubleheader weekend followed Rick Ware Racing’s Garrett Smithley. 

This race weekend was notable in what has been an odd 2020 NASCAR season. While the FireKeepers Casino 400 would be the last in the “random draw” qualifying lineup, it would be the first NASCAR Cup Series race (save the All-Star Race) to feature the Choose Rule.

Stage 1

After an agonizing delayed start due to the Xfinity Series running late, the green flag finally dropped on the Cup race. Smithley rolled off P33 and asked early on if anyone was running in the PJ1. Once the competition caution flew on lap 20, he was fighting the leaders to stay on the lead lap.

After pitting, his RWR Chevy was assessed a penalty on the restart. After much deliberation, it came down to understanding the new rules pertaining to the choose rule. 

The remainder of the opening stage ran green and he brought his machine to the stripe P37. Crew chief Jason Houghtaling encouraged his driver, “We’ll get it back!”

Rick Ware Racing promotes sponsors for Garrett Smithley at Michigan International Speedway.

Rick Ware Racing shows off a number of sponsors on Garrett Smithley’s car. (Photo Credit: RWR Social Media)

Stage 2

Under caution, the No. 53 team adjusted the trackbar and added fresh tires and fuel. Smithley restarted P38. 

After noting an “oil pressure glitch” early on in the second stage, Houghtaling informed his driver he ran his fastest lap of the day “by far.”

Smithley maintained P37 as the racing stretched to a single file line. A quiet stage wound down and the No. 53 finished P36. Houghtaling again cheered on Smithley, “You’re doing awesome!”


Stage 3

After a three-wide restart, the caution flew as John Hunter Nemechek went spinning on the front stretch after contact with Chris Buescher. 

Nine laps later, Nemechek brought out the caution again and Smithley took the wave around to gain back a lap.

Lap 109 brought the restart. Smithley was sitting P36, down two laps. Sixteen laps later, he came to his crew under green for right-side tires and fuel.

Once Smithley was back on track, the caution flew again for the No. 38. He came back to his crew for left-side tires and topped off with fuel for the final run.

Although he was restarting three laps down, he was on a lap of his own in P34. Smithley told his crew chief he was still battling oil pressure issues on his display, but radio chatter indicated he might have an oil leak.

He had to pit immediately due to his car smoking, however, his crew couldn’t find any leaks and sent him back on track.

Closing Notes

The caution flew with 14 to go as Ryan Preece slammed the wall. Under caution, the No. 53 team opted to park the machine for the day to prevent any further damage in light of the doubleheader.

Smithley finished the day P35. Additionally, this is where he will start part two of the weekend doubleheader.

Be sure to follow Garrett Smithley on Twitter to keep up to date on upcoming races. 

Sunday’s Random Race Recap will follow Roush Fenway Racing’s, Chris Buescher.

As a life-long NASCAR fan and lover of words, I'm fortunate enough to put the two together here at The Podium Finish to bring our readers and motorsports fans news, features, and interviews from the world of wheels. Originally from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, I moved westward to graduate from Middle Tennessee State University. I now reside in central North Carolina with my husband, our three boys, and our dog, Charlotte. While my heart is at the race track, I also enjoy watching baseball, as well as college football and basketball. 

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