NASCAR: High School Senior Sammy Smith wins Phoenix Xfinity race
Toyota development driver Sammy Smith earned his first NASCAR Xfinity Series win at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday afternoon. The 18-year-old High School Senior Iowa-native led 92 of 200 laps to win in just his 13th career NASCAR Xfinity Series start. Ryan Truex completed a Joe Gibbs Racing top-two sweep as the New Jersey-native tied his career-best result with a runner-up finish.
Smith led a race-high 92 laps, including the last 52, taking the lead from all-time series wins leader Kyle Busch on Lap 149. To secure his first victory in the series in his 13th start, Smith had to survive restarts on Laps 157, 177 and 186.
“That was tough with all of those restarts – and going against some of the best,” said Smith, who takes his high school classes online. “I just have to thank everybody on Pilot/Flying J, Toyota, JGR guys and everybody on this 18 team for giving me an awesome car. This is awesome.
“This is a dream come true, and I did know that at some point this was coming. It took a lot of hard work and a lot of great people around me. Without all of these guys, I wouldn’t be here.”
In a part-time role with JGR, Truex matched his career-best finish after restarting seventh on Lap 186.
“That was a good restart at the end,” Truex said. “I thought I could at least try to make it exciting. Congrats to Sammy – he was the class of the field all day. His car was so good. He could really kind of do whatever he wanted.
“Sammy was just a little bit faster, but I’ll try again next time.”
Sheldon Creed ran a miraculous third after spinning and losing track position on Lap 148 to cause the ninth caution. Creed got help from Kaulig Racing teammates Busch and Chandler Smith, who tangled on the last lap while racing for fourth. Smith got the better of the exchange, finishing fifth to Busch’s ninth.
Busch and Chandler Smith weren’t the only teammates who traded paint on Saturday. JR Motorsports’ Josh Berry spun off the bumper of Sam Mayer on Lap 84 but fought back to finish eighth.
Justin Allgaier, who won the race’s first two stages, crashed hard on Lap 178 after contact from JR Motorsports teammate Brandon Jones and Sam Hunt Racing’s Kaz Grala. The accident eliminated Allgaier and set up Smith’s triumphant run to the checkered flag.
Riley Herbst ran fourth. John Hunter Nemechek recovered from a restart penalty – dipping below the yellow line on the apron before the start/finish line – to come home sixth.
Austin Hill was seventh, followed by Berry, Busch and Daniel Hemric. Mayer finished 11th and pole winner Cole Custer 12th.
Heading to his home state of Georgia, Hill leads the series standings by 30 points over second-place Nemechek. The Xfinity Series returns to action Saturday, March 18 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (5 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) for the Raptor King of Tough 250.
SAMMY SMITH, No. 18 Pilot Flying J Toyota GR Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 1st
What did it take to get to this point?
“It was tough with all of these restarts. I just got to thank everyone on this Pilot Flying J team, TMC, Allstate Peterbuilt, Renda Group, Sinclair, Toyota, JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) guys – everybody on this 18 team that gave me an awesome car.”
What did it take to get to this point in your career?
“A lot of hard work and a lot of great people behind me. Without all these guys – and Pilot Flying J, TMC and Toyota, I wouldn’t be here.”
What does it mean to be in victory lane in the NASCAR Xfinity Series?
“It is amazing. It’s a dream come true – just thanks to Pilot Flying J, TMC, Allstate Peterbuilt Group, Renda Group, Toyota – all of the guys on the JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) team for giving me this opportunity. It is awesome.”
RYAN TRUEX, No. 19 Toyota Genuine Parts Toyota GR Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 2nd
You got it going when it counted. How was your race?
“I think the track just changed a lot more than I expected it to. That long run we were really bad – I was just hanging on. Jason (Ratcliff) and these guys let me complain on the radio and we made the right adjustments. That was a good restart at the end; I’m glad at least I could try to make it exciting. Congrats to Sammy (Smith) and I think he was the class of the field all day. His car looked so good, and he could do what he wanted. Just thankful to be here. Thank you to Toyota Genuine Parts – it was as fast as Xfinity 10 G – but I think that Sammy was just a little bit faster. I’ll try again next time.”
|1||11||18||Sammy Smith #||Pilot Flying J Toyota||200||Running||92|
|2||12||19||Ryan Truex||Toyota Genuine Parts Toyota||200||Running||0|
|3||5||2||Sheldon Creed||Whelen Chevrolet||200||Running||0|
|4||10||98||Riley Herbst||Monster Energy Ford||200||Running||0|
|5||6||16||Chandler Smith #||Quick Tie Products Inc. Chevrolet||200||Running||2|
|6||4||20||John Hunter Nemechek||Safeway/Albertsons Toyota||200||Running||19|
|7||8||21||Austin Hill||United Rentals Chevrolet||200||Running||22|
|8||7||8||Josh Berry||Jarrett Logistics Systems Chevrolet||200||Running||0|
|9||38||10||Kyle Busch(i)||LA Golf Chevrolet||200||Running||3|
|10||3||11||Daniel Hemric||Cirkul Chevrolet||200||Running||0|
|11||14||1||Sam Mayer||Accelerate Pros Talent Chevrolet||200||Running||4|
|12||1||0||Cole Custer||Haas Automation Ford||200||Running||38|
|13||17||25||Brett Moffitt||AM Technical Solutions Ford||200||Running||0|
|14||25||78||Anthony Alfredo||Ticket Smarter Chevrolet||200||Running||0|
|15||37||48||Parker Kligerman||Big Machine Racing Spiked Chevrolet||200||Running||0|
|16||9||39||Ryan Sieg||CMRroofing.com Ford||200||Running||0|
|17||18||2||Kyle Weatherman||Our Motorsports Chevrolet||200||Running||0|
|18||15||31||Parker Retzlaff #||Bommarito Automotive Group Chevrolet||200||Running||0|
|19||19||43||Ryan Ellis||Rolling Plains Construction Chevrolet||200||Running||0|
|20||27||51||Jeremy Clements||Fox Sports/Spartan Waste Chevrolet||200||Running||0|
|21||20||92||Josh Williams||Call 811/Alloy Employer Chevrolet||200||Running||0|
|22||16||27||Jeb Burton||Bommarito.com/EasyCare Chevrolet||200||Running||0|
|23||21||9||Brandon Jones||Menards/Barracuda Pumps Chevrolet||200||Running||0|
|24||36||24||Connor Mosack||Toyota Racing Development Toyota||200||Running||0|
|26||33||35||Joey Gase||Nevada Donor Network Toyota||200||Running||0|
|27||23||45||Leland Honeyman||Klean Freak Body Wipes Chevrolet||200||Running||0|
|28||32||4||Bayley Currey||Mikes Weather Page/Firman Chevrolet||200||Running||0|
|29||28||6||Brennan Poole||Rudy’s Barbecue/Macc Door Systems Chevrolet||200||Running||0|
|30||34||53||Patrick Emerling||Sci Aps Chevrolet||200||Running||0|
|31||24||38||Joe Graf Jr||GTECHNIQ Ford||200||Running||0|
|32||30||91||Garrett Smithley||DozerWinchParts.com Chevrolet||200||Running||0|
|33||31||44||Jeffrey Earnhardt||Gas POS/BZ Mart Chevrolet||200||Running||0|
|34||13||26||Kaz Grala||Fire Department Coffee Toyota||199||Running||0|
|35||35||7||Blaine Perkins #||Swift Chevrolet||192||Suspension||0|
|36||2||7||Justin Allgaier||hellowater Chevrolet||178||Accident||20|
|37||26||8||Gray Gaulding||Panini NFT Ford||137||Accident||0|
|38||29||74||Dawson Cram||Lerner & Rowe Injury Lawyers Chevrolet||99||Fuel Pump||0|