Sammy Smith is a senior in high school. He’s now also a winner in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
The 18-year-old Smith earned his first career victory on a sultry Saturday in the United Rentals 200. He led a race-high 92 laps in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and outdueled the likes Kyle Busch and others to become the latest young winner at Phoenix Raceway this weekend.
After fending off a challenge from Busch on the final restart, Smith held off a hard-charging Ryan Truex, who finished a little more than half a second behind for an impressive runner-up showing. Sheldon Creed, Riley Herbst and Chandler Smith rounded out the top five in a topsy-turvy race that featured 11 cautions.
“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.”
The most significant moment came at Lap 179, when Justin Allgaier was contacted by JR Motorsports teammate Brandon Jones. That sent Allgaier’s No. 7 Chevrolet into the outside wall exiting Turn 4 while Jones ricocheted off Kaz Grala, sending the No. 26 Sam Hunt Racing Toyota into the wall with Allgaier.
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Now all eyes turn to Sunday’s stars of the NASCAR Cup Series and the United Rentals Work United 500. Gates open at 8 a.m. with interactive fun & games, driver appearances and entertainment planned throughout the midway and FanShield Infield Experience.
The green flag will fly shortly after 12:30 p.m., with racing legend Lyn St. James leading the field in the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 pace car. Only a select number of grandstand seats remain, so fans should visit www.phoenixraceway.com to secure their tickets before it’s too late.