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Chandler Smith Inherits First Xfinity Victory of 2024 at Phoenix Raceway

Photo Credit: John K Harrelson, LAT Images, Courtesy of Toyota Racing

With a handful of laps remaining in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Phoenix Raceway, Chandler Smith was preparing to finish a distant second place to then-race-leader Justin Allgaier.

But, in the blink of an eye, what was destined to be a disappointing close-call for the native of Talking Rock, Georgia, quickly turned into a Victory Lane celebration, after Allgaier blew a left-rear tire, sending his No. 7 Chevrolet crashing hard into the outside wall.

That created an entirely new ballgame for Smith, leaving the 21-year-old racer to put on a masterful two-lap overtime defense against teammate Sheldon Creed and rookie standout Jesse Love, who had been battling for a position on track throughout the entire final run.

With a Toyota GR Supra as fast as Smith had throughout the race, leading a race-high 88 of 205 laps, holding onto the lead wasn’t an issue, gapping his two closest competitors by three-tenths of a second by the end of the two-lap stint.

“What a day. Went from dominating, to wasn’t great, to dominating again, to wasn’t great again, we just lacked a little bit on [Justin Allgaier],” said Chandler Smith after the race. “Hate that happened to him, he definitely had that in the bag, so I hate it for his guys and all.”

The victory marks the second of Smith’s career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and his first since rejoining Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing to start the 2024 season. Smith is the second winner for Toyota this season after Joh Hunter Nemechek won last weekend in Las Vegas.

“Our car was definitely as fast as Xfinity 10G today and I’m so proud of everybody back at Joe Gibbs Racing. It’s good to finally get the first one off my back with these guys, so lets keep racing them up.”

Jesse Love, in just his fourth Xfinity Series start, picked up a runner-up finish on Saturday, narrowly beating Sheldon Creed to the start-finish line on the final lap of the race, who picked up his third top-five result of the year in third place.

Austin Hill continued his streak of top-five finishes with a fourth-place result, after struggling for the majority of the afternoon at the one-mile facility. Cole Custer, who scored the pole for the 200-lap contest, finished in fifth place.

Shane van Gisbergen made an incredible rally in the closing laps of Saturday’s event to earn his second top-10 finish, in sixth, while Brandon Jones, Parker Kligerman, Sammy Smith, and Anthony Alfredo completed the top-10.

Several smaller teams managed to score top-15 results in Saturday’s event at Phoenix Raceway, including Leland Honeyman in 11th for Young’s Motorsports, Ryan Sieg and Blaine Perkins in 12th and 13th for RSS Racing, and BJ McLeod in 14th for BJ McLeod Motorsports.

On the flip side, there were several drivers who had strong runs throughout the afternoon that didn’t have the results to go along with it, including William Byron (23rd), Riley Herbst (24th), Justin Allgaier (29th), and others, who were involved in accidents during the race.

The biggest problem all afternoon long came during the final stage, when eventual race-winner Chandler Smith made contact with teammate John Hunter Nemechek while battling for second, collecting 12 cars as the No. 20 spun to the inside of the racetrack.

For the first time in 2024, the NASCAR Xfinity Series will have an off-weekend as the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series travel to Bristol Motor Speedway. The series will return in two weeks for the first road course of the year at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas.

Race Results: NXS 200 at Phoenix Raceway

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