Sammy Smith led the most laps at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday (March 11) and successfully navigated late restarts to score his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win.
“Yeah, it’s amazing.” Sammy Smith told FOX Sports. “It’s a dream come true. Thanks to all the guys on this JGR team for giving me this opportunity. It’s awesome.”
Smith held off threats like Kyle Busch, Chandler Smith and Ryan Truex on multiple restarts to grab the win, which is the second for Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota this season. Truex completed the JGR 1-2 finish, scoring his third career runner-up.
Sheldon Creed came back from a spin to finish third, Riley Herbst finished fourth and Chandler Smith rounded out the top five. John Hunter Nemechek finished sixth after a restart penalty on lap 78 sent him from the lead to the tail of the field. Austin Hill was seventh, and Josh Berry, who spun out twice in the race, came back to finish eighth. Busch and Daniel Hemric completed the top 10.
Busch and Chandler Smith were racing for third on the final lap when contact between the two dropped them both several spots.
Sammy Smith led 92 of the race’s 200 laps but never led until lap 103.
A late-stage spin from Berry brought out the caution and set up a shootout to the end of stage 1. Allgaier held off the competition to win the stage. Pit stops at the end of the stage mixed up the field, as Sam Mayer, who pitted under the previous caution, led the field to the start of stage 2.
On the restart, Nemechek took the lead from Mayer and led until lap 78 when he was penalized for driving below the yellow line before the start/finish line on a restart. This gave the lead to Hill for the first time.
Nemechek benefitted from a second Berry spin on lap 83 that brought out another caution, which kept his No. 20 Supra on the lead lap. Most of the field pitted under this caution, but Allgaier stayed out and was able to win stage 2, sweeping the stages.
Hill, who pitted during the caution before the end of stage 2, led the field to the green to start the final stage. Sammy Smith took advantage of a four-wide restart to take the lead on lap 103 after Busch led a lap.
A caution at lap 138 for Gray Gaulding blowing a right-front tire brought the field to pit road, and Hill won the race out the pits. Sammy Smith returned to the lead on the restart, but the caution immediately flew after Creed spun out in turn 2.
Sammy Smith continued to lead until the 11th caution for a crash in turn 4, when Brandon Jones and Allgaier made contact. Kaz Grala was also involved in the wreck with 21 laps to go. The wreck ended Allgaier’s day and relegated him 36th after winning the first two stages.
On final restart, a new name popped into the top five: Truex. He made a hard charge but fell short, as Smith held off his teammate to win.
The Xfinity Series returns east next week as it visits Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race on will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1 at 5 p.m. ET.
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