Smith wins the United Rentals 200, enters NASCAR’s record book

Sammy Smith celebrates with a burnout after winning Saturday’s United Rentals 200 Xfinity race at Phoenix Raceway. Photo by David Barks

PHOENIX – Sammy Smith made history Saturday afternoon.

On an overcast day in the Valley of the Sun, Smith drove into the auto racing records books with a win in the United Rentals 200.

Just 18 years old (he’ll turn 19 on June 4), the high school senior from Johnston, Iowa, is now the youngest driver to win a race in NASCAR’s Xfinity series, holding off former NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, among others, to win the 200-mile race over the one-mile oval at Phoenix Raceway in Avondale, Ariz.

“This is a dream come true but I couldn’t have done it without the people around me,” said the Xfinity Series rookie Smith. “It was fun today. Hopefully, we’ll be doing it more often.”

Sammy Smith crosses the finish line to win the United Rentals 200 Saturday at Phoenix Raceway. At 18 years old, Smith became the youngest winner in Xfinity Series history. Photo by David Barks

Smith’s nerves were steady as he held off challenges from Busch, John Hunter Nemechek, Austin Hill, and Josh Berry for his first win in 13 Xfinity Series races.

Ryan Truex, matching his career-best finish, was second, 0.641 seconds back.

Sheldon Creed finished third, followed by Riley Herbst, Chandler Smith, Nemechek, Hill, Berry, Busch, and Daniel Hemric.

Cole Custer had the pole and led the race’s first 37 laps but Justin Allgaier caught him and took the lead on lap 38, racing to the win in Stage 1. By then, Custer had fallen back to sixth place.

Custer hung around at the back of the top 10, ending up in 12th place at the end.

Allgaier went on to win Stage 2 but was shuffled to the middle of the pack after the end-of-stage pit stops.

Allgaier worked his way back into contention until he was turned into the wall in Turn 4 by Gray Gaulding and then bounced into Anthony Alfredo on lap 180. The accident knocked both Allgaier and Gaulding out of the race.

That was the 11th and final caution of the day.

Smith led 92 laps and was in or near the lead the entire afternoon finally taking it for good on the restart on lap 156 after the ninth caution.

Busch and Nemechek were on his rear bumper, less than a second back.

After the final restart, Busch pressed Smith, then Truex worked his way into second with nine laps to go,

Smith opened a 0.646-second lead heading into the final lap and held off Truex for the win.

Ryan Truex finishes second in Saturday’s United Rentals 200 Xfinity race. Photo by David Barks

“I thought we were good at the beginning of the race but in the long runs we were awful,” said Truex. “It was exciting at the end. I’m glad we could make it exciting but we just couldn’t catch him. Congratulations to Sammy. He had a really fast race car.”

Meanwhile, Busch got bounced around in traffic which shook up the front of the field allowing Creed, Herbst, and Chandler Smith to move into the top five.

“It was fun racing up front against Kyle,” said Smith. “I’ve known Kyle for four or five years. He’s taught me a lot and is always there with answers to my questions. It was cool to beat him straight up.”

NASCAR wraps up its West Coast Swing Sunday with the United Rentals Work United 500 Cup race.

Ryan Truex finishes second in Saturday’s United Rentals 200 Xfinity race at Phoenix Raceway. Photo by David Barks
Cole Custer (00) leads the field including Juston Allgaier (7), Daniel Hemric (11), John Hunter Nemechek (20, and Chandler Smith (16) at the start of Saturday’s United Rentals 200 Xfinity race. Photo by David Barks.
Photo by David Barks
Photo by David Barks
Photo by David Barks
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