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A little help for Smith

September 12, 2013, Staff report, NASCAR Wire Service, NASCAR.com

Chicagoland will be Earnhardt Jr.'s fourth and final Nationwide Series start of the season

Several weeks ago, Regan Smith was able to test at Chicagoland Speedway, providing him and his team much needed information headed into Saturday's Dollar General 300 Powered by Coca-Cola (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2) at the track.

The knowledge he and his team took away from the testing session and the July race where he finished 13th have the 29-year-old driver from Cato, N.Y., eager to add another win to his 2013 resume and climb back up the standings.

"We're at the point now where it's imperative we get the best finish and all the points we can each week," said Smith, who already has two wins this season (Talladega and Michigan). "There aren't too many races left in this championship battle and you don't want to be the team making mistakes."

With eight races left before a new champion is crowned -- reigning back-to-back champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. moved to a full-time ride in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series prior to the beginning of the season -- Smith is in third place in the standings, 26 points behind leader Sam Hornish Jr. Austin Dillon is second, 10 markers in front of Smith.

This weekend, when Smith lines up for the start of the race, his owner and teammate, NASCAR Sprint Cup regular Dale Earnhardt Jr. will also be wheeling a JR Motorsports Chevrolet. The race will be Earnhardt's fourth and final series start of the season.

With Earnhardt in the race, expect Earnhardt and Smith along with their teams to be more than willing to share notes on car set-ups and racing conditions in an effort to help the latter move up the standings. 

In four NASCAR Nationwide starts at Chicagoland, Smith's best finish came in the July race. His other three showings resulted with less-than-spectacular results: 26th, 40th and 28th. In four NASCAR Sprint Cup starts at the track, he's placed 34th, 20th, 17th and 34th.

Earnhardt, who won back-to-back NASCAR Nationwide titles in 1998-1999, has made one previous start at the Joliet, Ill., oval. He finished 15th in 2006. In 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup starts, he has one victory (2005), three top fives and five top 10s.

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