‘Dream come true’: 18-year-old Sammy Smith wins first Xfinity Series race

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Sammy Smith won an Xfinity Series race at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday, the first victory for the 18-year-old high school student who is taking online classes so he can become a full-time driver.

Making his 13th start in the last two years for Joe Gibbs Racing, Smith led the final 52 laps and passed Cup Series star Kyle Busch on two restarts to take the checkered flag for the first time in a NASCAR national series event. .

“It’s amazing. It’s a dream come true,” said Smith. “It’s amazing.”

Ryan Truex finished second, followed by Sheldon Creed, Riley Herbst, and Chandler Smith. Busch was in second after the final restart with 15 laps to go, but he made contact with Chandler Smith on the final lap and finished ninth.

Sammy Smith put JGR in Victory Lane at Phoenix for the 16th time in the second-class series—and the sixth year in a row—with six different drivers. Christopher Bell (2018), Busch (2019), Brandon Jones (2020), Daniel Hemrick (2021) and Ty Gibbs (2022) previously celebrated on the mile-long track in the desert.

Smith also became the youngest ever Xfinity Series winner at Phoenix. He did so with relative ease, leading 92 of 200 laps in the United Rental 200 and not facing any significant challengers going forward.

Busch briefly passed him after the restart with 24 laps to go, but Smith was back for good.

After running nine races for Gibbs last year, Smith is now running full time for JGR. To do this he had to skip his senior year of high school.

Also in this event, Justin Allgaier failed to extend his streak of top-three finishes. The JR Motorsports driver crashed with 22 laps remaining when he made contact with Kaz Grala and slammed into the outside wall. He finished 36th in a 38-car field.

It was a disappointing finish for Allgaier, who had won the first two stages of the race. He had finished third or better in four consecutive Xfinity Series races. He was third in the 2022 season finale at Phoenix, third in the 2023 opener at Daytona, third at Fontana and second at Vegas last week.

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