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Smith wins second career Xfinity Series race after Allgaier's late flat tire

Chandler Smith Chandler Smith - The Canadian Press

AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Chandler Smith won his second career Xfinity Series race on Saturday at Phoenix Raceway, earning a surprise victory for Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing after Justin Allgaier crashed while holding a big lead with just four laps remaining.

The 21-year-old Smith took the lead after Allgaier's stunning crash and got a huge jump on the overtime restart, easily holding off Jesse Love and Sheldon Creed over the final two laps.

Allgaier's misfortune was caused by an ill-timed flat tire.

“I hate that happened to (Allgaier) — he definitely had it in the bag," Smith said. “But I'm so proud of everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing. It's good, finally, to get this first one off my back with these guys. Let's keep racking them up.”

Love finished second in his No. 2 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. Creed ended up third, giving Joe Gibbs Racing two of the top three cars. Austin Hill, who won the first two Xfinity races of the season, finished fourth.

It was an eventful afternoon for Smith, who was involved in a major wreck late in the race that collected several of the leaders, including teammate John Hunter Nemechek, Aric Almirola and Riley Herbst.

Nemechek looked like he might have the car to beat after gaining four spots on a pit stop, but the race changed drastically a few minutes later when Nemechek and Smith made contact after the restart. It caused Nemechek to spin out in front of the field and hit multiple cars.

In all, 13 cars were involved and it brought out a red flag for track cleanup.

That opened the door for Allgaier, who looked like he would cruise to his third career victory in Phoenix. He was winning by about three seconds before his left rear tire went flat, causing the wreck.

“Going through the dogleg, I felt it come apart,” Allgaier said. “I hate it that we tore up a race car. I hate that we're not in victory lane.”

Allgaier finished 29th.

Smith led the first 45 laps to earn a win in the opening stage. He won two stages at Las Vegas last week. Cole Custer, who started on the pole, won the second 45-lap stage and finished fifth.

Frankie Muniz — the actor-turned-race-car-driver — finished 30th in his second Xfinity start. The 38-year-old is most known for his role in “Malcolm in the Middle” from 2000-06.


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