It’s been a strong weekend for Sammy Smith thus far at Phoenix Raceway, leading NASCAR Xfinity Series practice on Friday, just hours after capturing the victory in the ARCA Menards Series West event at the one-mile facility.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver, despite not being eligible for the Xfinity Series driver’s or owner’s championship, is seeking out his first victory in the second-tier series, after multiple close calls, including last week where he was spun while leading at Martinsville.
Smith led a sweep of the top-three positions for Joe Gibbs Racing, posting a time of 27.454 seconds (131.128) to lead the session over Brandon Jones, whose chances at a championship were derailed because of a last-lap move by Ty Gibbs at Martinsville.
Gibbs rounded out the podium positions in third place, the highest of the fourth drivers still eligible to capture the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship in Sunday’s event at Phoenix Raceway.
Daniel Hemric and Riley Herbst completed the top five on the time sheets from the 50-minute session, with AJ Allmendinger, Alex Labbe, Ryan Sieg, Nick Sanchez, and Kyle Weatherman completing the top-10.
Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson, and Josh Berry – the three JR Motorsports teammates also in the fight for the championship alongside Ty Gibbs – clocked in 12th through 14th, with the fastest lap nearly a quarter-second slower than the No. 54.
The 50-minute practice session featured a pair of stoppages for incidents on track, one by Matt Mills, who spun his No. 5 on-track near the front end of the session, and the other by Joe Graf Jr, who made significant contact with the wall in the closing minutes of the practice.