Smith Could Drive Johnson's Car at RIR

Regan Smith

Regan Smith, who filled in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. for a couple of races last year, could be on standby for Jimmie Johnson at Richmond with Johnson's wife expecting the couple's second child. (Photo: Getty Images)


Regan Smith drove some laps in Jimmie Johnson’s car during Wednesday’s test at Richmond International Raceway just in case he’s needed there in September.

Johnson posted a video clip on Twitter of Smith driving his car, saying the team was "getting (Smith) ready 'in case' I’m racing to the delivery room in a few weeks."

Johnson’s wife, Chandra, is expecting the couple’s second child around the Sept. 7 race.  Johnson already has clinched a spot in the Chase.  After winning at Pocono in June, Johnson admitted he was trying to build as big a lead as possible for Richmond.

"If Chani goes into labor early, I don’t have to worry about Richmond, honestly," Johnson said at the time.  "That is what I’m working so hard for.  I always work hard anyway, but it sure takes some pressure off if we lock early and don’t have to worry about Richmond."

Smith filled in for Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., last year when Earnhardt missed two Chase races because of symptoms from two concussions.  Smith finished 38th at Charlotte because of an engine failure and placed seventh at Kansas before Earnhardt returned.

Smith is running for Earnhardt’s Nationwide team, which has ties to Hendrick Motorsports.  Smith is third in the standings, 15 points behind series leader Sam Hornish Jr.

Wednesday was the final day of a two-day test for Hendrick Motorsports.  All four teams participated.

"Getting this track time is going to be really valuable for us when we come back," said Jeff Gordon, who is 14th in the points and is in danger of missing the Chase for the first time since 2005.

Said Kasey Kahne: "We needed two days, for sure, to get better."

One of the things the Hendrick cars did was get with a couple of the Michael Waltrip Racing cars and ran about 40 laps in race condition.

"The race was really for us to get the cars in race condition," Johnson said.  "We need to make sure that (Kahne) and (Gordon) have good races and make the Chase."

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