Race Weekend Central

Chandler Smith Scores 2nd Xfinity Win of 2024 at Richmond

Chandler Smith scored his third NASCAR Xfinity Series win and his second of 2024 on Saturday (March 30), as he won over his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Aric Almirola by a margin of 4.495 seconds while leading 76 of the 250 laps. This is Smith’s second Xfinity win at Richmond in a row after winning last year’s event with Kaulig Racing.

“This car was not good stage one, wasn’t good stage two,” Smith told FOX Sports 1. “We were able to do some strategy there with our Mobil 1 GR Supra. This thing was as fast as Xfinity internet then when it counted.”

Almirola led the most laps on the day with 95 and scored a season-best finish of second. Taylor Gray, in his first career Xfinity start, finished third to complete the JGR 1-2-3 finish.

“We just got a little too loose,” Almirola said. “The run before that in stage two when I took off, my car was really good and at the end, just built a little bit tight. That last run, for whatever reason, I don’t know if it’s a different set of tires or what, but I just paced myself. I let Chandler [Smith] go, and then when I started to try and just creep back to him, I didn’t have anything to go with. I was too loose in, and I couldn’t get the throttle down on exit.”

Corey Heim, another Toyota in Sam Hunt Racing’s No. 26, crossed the line in a Xfinity Series career-best finish of fourth. This marked only the second Toyota 1-2-3-4 finish ever in the Xfinity Series, with the first coming at Dover Motor Speedway in June 2012. Jesse Love of Richard Childress Racing completed the top five.

Bubba Pollard, also making his Xfinity debut, finished sixth after starting in the back in 37th. Parker Kligerman, Austin Hill, Sammy Smith and Cole Custer rounded out the top 10.

“These guys gave me a good car at JR Motorsports,” Pollard said. “I needed that green flag run just to get in a rhythm. This place is tough, it’s technical. It’s probably one of the tougher places I’ve been to, and I’ve been to a lot of places. If I wouldn’t of got us behind, I think we would’ve had a top five, but I’m happy with it. I enjoyed it. I had fun, and hopefully them fans enjoyed it too.”

See also
Kyle Larson Wins Cup Series Pole at Richmond, 1st of 2024

Parker Retzlaff won his first career pole and held the top spot for the opening 27 laps. Justin Allgaier took the lead from Retzlaff on the first restart of the race after Retzlaff’s Jordan Anderson Racing teammate Ryan Vargas had a mechanical issue early in the running.

Heim took the lead from Allgaier right before Brandon Jones, who started second, brought out the second caution after his motor blew up on lap 43. Ryan Sieg was also involved, spinning right behind the No. 9’s oil trail. Blaine Perkins also stopped during the caution and took his car behind the wall.

Heim logged his first laps led in the Xfinity Series under caution, but Allgaier immediately challenged for the lead and took it from Heim on the lap 57 restart.

It wouldn’t take long for another Toyota to get to the lead by lap 65, as the veteran Almirola took the lead and held it to the stage one victory over a hard-charging Brennan Poole in the No. 44 Chevrolet Camaro for Alpha Prime Racing.

Heim, Allgaier and Sam Mayer completed the top five in stage one.

Almirola held the lead for the entirety of the second stage that featured only one caution for Logan Bearden spinning on lap 96. Bearden, also in his first career Xfinity start, recovered to finish 10th in stage two.

Mayer, Smith, Gray and Heim completed the top five in the second stage.

Almirola held Mayer up on the restart, who suffered a flat tire after contact with the No. 19 of Gray. Mayer had to pit under green and finished 30th, four laps down.

Smith passed his JGR teammate of Almirola on lap 163 for the lead, but 10 laps later, the caution flew for Joey Gase crashing into the turn one wall after spinning from contact with Dawson Cram. Gase threw his rear bumper at Cram’s car after he ripped the damaged bumper off his No. 35 Chevrolet.

“I wanted to give him a souvenir and let him know what he did,” Gase said. “I gave the kid his first ever start in Xfinity, and he comes over and borrows our tools and parts and pieces every week. He’s a good kid, but he loses his head every freaking race.”

This split the strategy up with Allgaier, Custer, Riley Herbst, Retzlaff and 11 others staying out while Smith, Almirola, Hill and others pitted for tires.

Custer took the lead on the lap 184 restart, but Smith, on his fresher tires, made it back to the lead by lap 191. Hailie Deegan nearly brought out a caution with 6 laps to go after losing power in her No. 15 Ford Mustang, but she made it to pit road in time for Smith to cruise to the checkered flag.

The Xfinity Series will return next Saturday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. ET for the DUDE Wipes 250 at Martinsville Speedway. TV coverage will be provided by FOX Sports 1.

About the author

Wyatt Watson has been an avid fan of NASCAR since 2007 at the age of 8. He joined Frontstretch in February 2023 after serving in the United States Navy for five years as an Electronic Technician Navigation working on submarines. Wyatt writes breaking NASCAR news and contributes to columns such as Friday Faceoff and 2-Headed Monster. Wyatt also contributes to Frontstretch's social media and serves as an at-track reporter.

Wyatt Watson can be found on Twitter @WyattGametime

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