Saturday June 3rd, 2023 10:06AM

Chandler Smith captures first Xfinity win at Richmond

By Holly Cain-NASCAR Wire Service
  Contact Editor

Chandler Smith earned his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory Saturday afternoon at Richmond Raceway.

The series rookie from Talking Rock, Georgia held off John Hunter Nemechek on a final race restart with six laps remaining to earn the winner’s trophy.

Smith led a race best 83 of the 250 laps – the bulk of that early in the race. But the 20-year year old Peach State driver was able to run among the top five for most of the day and ultimately drove around Nemechek on the last restart, pulling away to a .298-second victory after some intense side-by-side action for the lead in the closing laps.

Smith has had three top-five finishes, including a gut-wrenching near miss at Las Vegas last month. After leading a dominant 118 laps and being out front with one lap to go at Vegas four races ago, he had to settle for third place. So the victory at Richmond was especially motivating for the young driver.

“Feels great,’’ a Smith said. “This goes to testimony as to Vegas, dominated that race but didn’t win and said, it was all in God’s timing. … here we are in Richmond, my favorite race track and we’re sitting in victory lane.”

Smith started his career racing Mini-Cup cars at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, Georgia and at Lanier Raceplex in Braselton, Georgia.

Saturday’s race marked the third-consecutive runner-up finish for Nemechek at the 0.75-mile Richmond track, including a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race and the last two NXS races there.

“We weren’t very good on the short run, we had a long-run speed car,’’ Nemechek said, “But we came from the back up there to battle for the win, put ourselves in position.

“Disappointed to run runner-up again, that’s the last three races I’ve run here, finished second. Frustrated but we’ll go back to work. The 16 (Smith) just had the best car on the short run.”

Josh Berry finished third. He led 63 laps and was out front with 65 laps remaining until a series of caution flags and restarts that characterized the race ending.

Kaz Grala turned in a strong day with a fourth place showing – equaling his career best effort in the Xfinity Series. Cole Custer rallied to a fifth place finish after a problem on pit road and some tight side-by-side racing late in the day.

Justin Allgaier – who started from pole position after qualifying was rained out Saturday morning – led laps early but had an up-and-down day. Ultimately, he finished 13th and was good enough to take the first $100,000 bonus in the Dash 4 Cash sweepstakes sponsored by Xfinity.

With his work, Allgaier now joins Saturday’s three new qualifiers – Chandler Smith, Berry and Nemechek – to contend for the next $100,000 check at the series’ next race at Martinsville Speedway on April 15.

“Weird day today, we didn’t fire off quite as good as we hoped for but they kept working, great pit stops all day.’’ Allgaier said. “It’s weird finishing 13th and still be standing here holding this check but the other guys had a rough day. This puts us in next week for the Dash 4 Cash so huge thanks to Xfinity for all they do for the sport.”

Seven different drivers led at least 24 laps – and for much of the race there were at least three drivers ranked among the top 10 looking for their first career Xfinity Series win.

Sheldon Creed, Tucker, Georgia’s Ryan Sieg, Parker Kligerman, the season’s three-race winner Austin Hill and Derek Kraus rounded out the top 10. It was the first series start for Kraus, who raced among the top 10 for most of the day.

Riley Herbst, who led 27 laps and Atlanta, Georgia’s Brandon Jones, who led 24, were involved in an accident while contending for fourth place late in the race. Herbst finished 23rd while Jones was 21st.

NASCAR Xfinity Series
Richmond Raceway – Richmond, VA
ToyotaCare 250 – April 1, 2023

1. (8) Chandler Smith #, Chevrolet, 250.
2. (10) John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 250.
3. (7) Josh Berry, Chevrolet, 250.
4. (21) Kaz Grala, Toyota, 250.
5. (22) Cole Custer, Ford, 250.
6. (6) Sheldon Creed, Chevrolet, 250.
7. (17) Ryan Sieg, Ford, 250.
8. (20) Parker Kligerman, Chevrolet, 250.
9. (18) Austin Hill, Chevrolet, 250.
10. (11) Derek Kraus, Chevrolet, 250.
11. (32) Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, 250.
12. (16) Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 250.
13. (1) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 250.
14. (29) Chris Hacker(i), Ford, 250.
15. (23) Ryan Ellis, Chevrolet, 250.
16. (14) Parker Retzlaff #, Chevrolet, 250.
17. (3) Sam Mayer, Chevrolet, 250.
18. (34) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 250.
19. (2) Sammy Smith #, Toyota, 250.
20. (25) Kyle Sieg, Ford, 250.
21. (9) Brandon Jones, Chevrolet, 250.
22. (24) Brett Moffitt, Ford, 250.
23. (4) Riley Herbst, Ford, 250.
24. (5) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 249.
25. (28) Leland Honeyman, Chevrolet, 249.
26. (27) Blaine Perkins #, Chevrolet, 248.
27. (35) Joey Gase, Toyota, 248.
28. (19) Connor Mosack, Toyota, 248.
29. (33) Patrick Emerling, Ford, 248.
30. (37) Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, 248.
31. (38) Mason Maggio(i), Toyota, 247.
32. (36) Stefan Parsons, Chevrolet, 247.
33. (26) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 247.
34. (30) Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, 247.
35. (31) Gray Gaulding, Ford, 245.
36. (12) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 243.
37. (15) Joe Graf, Jr., Toyota, 236.
38. (13) Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, Accident, 144.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 86.884 mph.

Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 9 Mins, 29 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.298 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 6 for 43 laps.

Lead Changes: 10 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders: J. Allgaier 1-2;S. Smith # 3-42;R. Herbst 43-44;C. Smith # 45-79;R. Herbst 80-104;C. Smith # 105-140;J. Berry 141-161;B. Jones 162-185;J. Berry 186-227;J. Nemechek 228-238;C. Smith # 239-250.

Leaders Summary: (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led) Chandler Smith # 3 times for 83 laps; Josh Berry 2 times for 63 laps; Sammy Smith # 1 time for 40 laps; Riley Herbst 2 times for 27 laps; Brandon Jones 1 time for 24 laps; John Hunter Nemechek 1 time for 11 laps; Justin Allgaier 1 time for 2 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 16,98,9,8,00,7,11,2,39,1

Stage #2 Top Ten: 8,9,98,16,00,26,20,48,7,2

Playoff Standings: 1. Austin Hill – 277 (3 Wins); 2. John Hunter Nemechek – 259 (1 Win); 3. Chandler Smith – 253 (1 Win); 4. Sammy Smith – 203 (1 Win); 5. Riley Herbst – 265; 6. Josh Berry – 234; 7. Justin Allgaier – 231; 8. Sheldon Creed – 219; 9. Sam Mayer – 208; 10. Cole Custer – 196; 11. Daniel Hemric – 193; 12. Parker Kligerman – 188.

(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Sports, Local/State News, NASCAR News, Xfinity Series
  • Associated Tags: nascar, motorsports, xfinity series, Auto Racing, Stock Car, Short Track, Asphalt, Motorsports Live On WDUN, #GAdrivers
© Copyright 2023
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.