18-year-old Sammy Smith won the first Xfinity Series race

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Sammy Smith won the Xfinity Series race Saturday at Phoenix Raceway, the first win for the 18-year-old high school student who is taking online lessons to become a full-time driver.

Smith, making his 13th start in the last two years for Joe Gibbs, led the final 52 laps and twice lapped Cup Series star Kyle Busch to take the checkered flag for the first time in a NASCAR National Series event.

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

Ryan Truex finished second, followed by Sheldon Creed, Riley Herbst and Chandler Smith. Busch was 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 and sixth consecutive year in the second-tier series with six different drivers. Christopher Bell (2018), Busch (2019), Brandon Jones (2020), Daniel Hemrick (2021) and Ty Gibbs (2022) have previously celebrated on the desert mile track.

Smith also became the youngest Xfinity Series winner at Phoenix. He did it with relative ease, leading 92 of 200 laps in the United Rentals 200 and not having any major problems for a long stretch.

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

After driving nine races for Gibbs last year, Smith now runs a full schedule for JGR. He had to give up his senior year of high school to make it happen.

Justin Allgaier also failed to extend his streak of top three finishes at the event. JR Motorsports driver Kaz Grala crashed into the outside wall with 22 laps to go after contact. He finished 36th in the 38-car field.

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

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