Chandler Smith wins NASCAR Xfinity overtime shootout Saturday at Phoenix Raceway

Cole Custer (00) and Chandler Smith (81) lead the field at the start of Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity race at Phoenix Raceway. Photo by David Barks.

Justin Allgaier’s hopes dashed after blowout with four laps to go

AVONDALE, AZ – Justin Allgaier had the race in the bag…. until he didn’t.

Everything changed with four laps to go.

Allgaier was leading Chandler Smith by about two car lengths for 54 of the race’s final 58 laps in the 200-lap, 200-mile race over Phoenix Raceway’s 1-mile oval when disaster struck.

Chandler Smith (81) leads Cole Custer (00) to win Stage 1 of Saturday’s Every Dig. Every Time. 200 NASCAR Xfinity race at Phoenix Raceway. Photo by David Barks.

Allgaier’s left rear tire blew out going through Turn 1.

And just like that, his day was done.

He hit the wall, demolishing his car and knocking him out of the lead and the race. He finished a heartbreaking 29th.

Smith won the two-lap overtime shootout to win the Every Dig. Every Time. 200 NASCAR Xfinity race in what NASCAR said was it’s largest Xfinity crowd in a decade.

“What a day,’ said Smith. “We went from dominating to weren’t that great, from dominating to weren’t that great. I hate it for the 7 (Allgaier) but it’s great to get the win.”

“I was so good. I hate it,” said Allgaier. “Going through the dogleg, I just felt it (the tire) coming apart. At that point, I was just a passenger. I just held on. But hats off to Chandler on the win.”

The win for Smith, a 21-year-old from Talking Rock, Ga., is the second of his Xfinity career.

Chandler Smith celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Call Every Dig. Every Time. 200 at Phoenix Raceway on March 09, 2024 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Smith, Cole Custer, and Allgaier were the class of the field.

Custer began the race on the pole with Smith beside him in the front row and Allgaier starting fifth.

Smith grabbed the lead on the first lap, holding it for all 45 laps of Stage 1, with Custer second and Allgaier third.

Custer beat Smith out of the pits during the stage break and led every lap of Stage 2 with Allgaier second, Aric Almirola third, and Smith fourth.

Custer was back out front when Stage 3 began before giving way to Smith 14 laps later.

Everyone made their final pit stop after a caution flag flew when Hailie Deegan hit the wall with 63 laps remaining and John Hunter Nemechek, down for the day from the Cup Series, was the leader, for a moment, on the restart.

Smith edged past his Gibbs Racing teammate Nemechek and Nemechek got close to Smith’s left rear quarter panel.

That took the air off the nose of Nemechek’s Toyota, sending him into a spin that started a massive 13-car chain reaction pileup.

Smith avoided the carnage and lined up second beside Allgaier for the restart.

Allgaier held a one or two-car length lead over Smith the rest of the way until that fateful tire failure ended his chance at victory.

Chandler Smith crosses the finish line to win Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity race at Phoenix Raceway. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

“I truly hate it for them (Allgaier),” said Smith, “Honestly, they had the win in the bag. Hopefully, we can repeat this in the Fall in the race for the championship. I’m just having fun.”

Rookie Jessie Love finished second, followed by Sheldon Creed, Austin Hill, Cole Custer, 34-year-old rookie Shane Van Gisberger, Brandon Jones, Parker Kligerman, Sammy Smith, and Anthony Alfredo.

“My car was really good at the start and again in Stage 2,” said Custer. “I was really working hard to hold them off but I began losing grip… the whole thing wasn’t working. We just have to keep working on it.”

“I’m glad we finished in the top 5,” said Hill. “We just have to figure out what we have to do to be better when we come back here in the Fall. I expect to be in the final 4.”

A third rookie, 19-year-old Leland Honeyman, from nearby Peoria, Az., finished 11th.

NASCAR wraps up its weekend in the Valley of the Sun Sunday with the Shriners Children’s 500 Cup Race.

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