Smith, Bayne take Nationwide points lead to Texas

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Updated: 4/04/2014 3:30 pm

In Thursday's practice sessions at Texas, Smith posted the third fastest lap overall at 179.850 mph, while Bayne was fourth overall on the charts at 179.653 mph.

"Our [car] has been fast from the moment we hit the track," Smith said. "It's really comfortable and has a lot of speed - both important elements at Texas. We spent most of our time fine tuning on it. I think our biggest hurdle was probably turn three, but we worked through it."

Smith won the Feb. 22 Nationwide season-opener at Daytona and then finished eighth the following week at Phoenix before placing 10th in each of the previous three races (Las Vegas, Bristol and Fontana, Calif.).

Bayne has started the season with five consecutive top-10 finishes as well. This is the first time in his six-year Nationwide career that he has held or shared the points lead.

"We have been steadily climbing up the points ladder, and I'm hoping to take the top spot this weekend," Bayne said. "The guys [No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing team] have been working really hard to get me fast cars, and I think it's paying off."

Bayne's first career win in Nationwide came in November 2011 at Texas. He finished 26th in last year's spring race here and 11th in the fall event.

Smith had top-10 finishes in both races at this track during the 2013 season.

Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Larson are those Sprint Cup Series regulars scheduled to compete in this race. Busch holds the record for most Nationwide wins at Texas with six, including a victory here one year ago. Larson claimed his first career win in the series two weeks ago in Fontana.

Forty teams are on the entry list for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300.

Series: NASCAR Nationwide. Date: Friday, April 4. Race: O'Reilly Auto Parts 300. Site: Texas Motor Speedway. Track: 1.5-mile oval. Start time: 8:30 p.m. ET. Laps: 200. Miles: 300. 2013 Winner: Kyle Busch. Television: ESPN2. Radio: Performance Racing Network (PRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.

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