Graveyard Ghosts: Regan Smith’s No. 7 Hellmann’s Chevrolet

Ron Lemasters | JR Motorsports | 11/12/2018

Hellmann's News Racecar Graveyard

Regan Smith was on pace to score another Daytona victory in February 2015... until he got caught up in a chain-reaction crash and ended up on his roof.

Driver: Regan Smith

Car: No. 7 Hellmann’s Chevrolet Camaro

Track: Daytona International Speedway (Feb. 21, 2015)

Bio: Regan Smith was right where he wanted to be in the opening race of the 2015 NASCAR Xfinity Series season. The defending race winner, Smith had high hopes of getting off to a good start in the opener, and it proceeded to plan. After starting 12th, the New York native was sitting comfortably in third place—or so, since it was a restrictor plate race and subject to shifts in position due to the vagaries of the draft—and waiting for the chaos to start in a few laps.

Hugging the bottom line, Smith was clicking off laps in the lead pack and trailing leaders Ryan Reed and Chris Buescher in the top five. Plate rookie Daniel Suarez, two laps down and in 30th place at the time, had somehow led the far outside line with Kyle Larson to the lead with 28 laps remaining. Suarez had ticked off many in the series during group practice by triggering a multi-car scrum, so there was a portent of impending chaos in the wind.

It came off Turn 4 when the field screamed down toward start/finish.

Suarez, still leading the outside line, wiggled at the exit of Turn 4 off the bumper of Larson, who was pushing for all he was worth. As the cars flattened out onto the straightaway, Suarez’s car went left, right and then hard left toward the infield and straight into the right rear fender of Smith’s Hellmann’s-backed Chevrolet.

The impact shot Smith’s car hard right, sideways to the field behind, and the air turned the car up and over onto its roof. Side note: Smith reported later that it was the first time he’d ever been on his lid in any type of car.

It wasn’t over, either. As Smith completed the rollover, the much-battered Camaro was hit by first Scott Lagasse and then Ryan Sieg and Brendan Gaughan as the scatter flew and the cars slid down the track. None of them were serious shots and Smith was out of the race at that point anyway. Suarez’s pell-mell trip across the track also impacted Chase Elliott, who was pushing Smith, and his No. 9 Chevrolet was damaged as well. Both championship contenders would have a big hole to dig out of as the season went on.

From leading 15 laps on two occasions and battling for the lead on the way to a hoped-for repeat to 35th at the finish, Smith’s Daytona adventure was over. He was unhurt, and in a funny moment, quipped that he was glad the crash hadn’t triggered wife Megan’s labor (she was close to term with the couple’s first child).

The career of the No. 7 Hellmann’s Chevrolet was likewise over, and in due course it joined its sisters in the Racecar Graveyard with massive damage to both ends and both sides.

With this entry, we close the book on the Racecar Graveyard series of articles. The Graveyard cars represent different parts of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s career, his life and his legacy, and while they no longer serve the purpose for which they were built, the memories they created (Amelia, some of the early DEI cars and some of the one-offs like Juan Pablo Montoya’s jet dryer car) will live on despite the bucolic conditions in which they now reside. Hopefully you have enjoyed visiting with all of its inhabitants, learning about their “careers” and their paths to their final resting places. Remember, you can access your favorites at any time through