During the week, Sammy Smith is a high school student, taking classes online.
On weekends, the 18-year-old is a rising NASCAR Xfinity Series driver. The teen/pilot captured his first circuit victory Saturday, holding off teammate Ryan Truex as Joe Gibbs Racing went 1-2 during a caution-filled United Rentals 200.
Smith became the youngest driver to take a checkered flag at Phoenix Raceway. He’s growing into his adult role fast.
CHECKERED FLAG: SAMMY SMITH IS AN #XFINITYSERIES WINNER!
The @JoeGibbsRacing driver wins the #UnitedRentals200! pic.twitter.com/HK17d6BaTo
— NASCAR Xfinity (@NASCAR_Xfinity) March 12, 2023
Sammy Smith Keeps JGR Dominant at Phoenix Raceway
Smith, who led 92 laps, outmaneuvered 37-year-old Kyle Busch on Lap 149 and maintained the advantage the rest of the way. He went to school and learned how to win.
“This is a dream come true and I did know at some point this was coming,” Smith said, as reported by NASCAR.com. “It took a lot of hard work.”
Smith displayed veteran-like poise, fending off restarts on Laps 157, 177 and 186.
“That was tough with all those restarts and going against some of the best,” said Smith, who made his 13th career Xfinity start Saturday.
Smith’s victory continued JGR’s dominance on the one-mile track, providing the Huntersville, North Carolina-based organization with its 16th trip to Victory Lane in the desert.
For the record-extending 42nd time, @J_Allgaier wins an #XfinitySeries stage. pic.twitter.com/plc6ZNlhZh
— Xfinity Racing (@XfinityRacing) March 11, 2023
Ryan Truex: ‘Sammy Was Just A Little Bit Faster’
A part-time driver with JGR, Truex capitalized on a strong finishing run. He started seventh on the final restart and worked his way up to equal his career-best effort.
“I thought I could at least make it exciting,” Truex said. “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, who placed P3, came back strong after spinning out on Lap 148, causing the event’s ninth caution period. Creed benefited from Kaulig Racing teammates, Busch and Chandler Smith, coming together on the final lap. Smith ended up in fifth and Busch, the series’ all-time leader with 102 wins, finished ninth.
Busch and Smith weren’t the lone teammates to tangle Saturday. JR Motorsports’ Brandon Jones and Justin Allgaier mixed it up with Sam Hunt Racing’s Kaz Grala, forcing Allgaier to crash out on Lap 178.
Allgaier earned Stage 1 and 2 points for the eighth time in his career but has only two wins during those outings.
Xfinity Series points leader Austin Hill placed seventh.
Wonder what homework Smith needs to finish Sunday?