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Tyler Reif (ARCA) And Sammy Smith (Xfinity) Are The Youngest Drivers To Win This Weekend In Phoenix

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Photo Credit: Elvin L. Anderson Jr.

Avondale, Ariz.– This weekend at Phoenix Raceway yielded great results for two first timers on Friday and Saturday. During the ARCA Menards Series race on Friday night, 15 year old Tyler Reif from Henderson, Nevada showed his skills during the late race caution. Can you imagine Reif doesn’t even have his driver’s license. He had to get permission to be able to race. Oddly enough even with the spin out around lap 11 causing damage to the rear of his car, Reif kept his eye on the prize. The Lowden-Jackson Motorsports crew did all they could to keep him in the race.

“This team is so good to get this car hooked up. I’m happy. There are just no words to describe this,” Reif said.

During the General Tires 150 race, it appeared that William Sawalich was going to win the race as he led most of the evening. He too would have had a special night if he made it into victory lane as he was on his debut ARCA series run with Joe Gibbs Racing. Unfortunately, during the first green-white-checkered restart he and Bradley Erickson made contact giving Reif the lead. This lead was a furious battle with second place Landen Lewis after the second green-white-checkered restart. Reif pushed his car to the limits and came out of turn 2 into turn 3 where he was able to pass Lewis for the win.

Another thing that was really special to see was NASCAR Cup Series driver Noah Gragson was in Victory Lane celebrating the No. 41 driver after the win. Gragson said during the bullpen interview on Saturday that he spent a lot of time with Reif. They spent time going to go kart track and watched him progress throughout his racing career.

“It’s been really cool to see the hard work that he’s put into his craft and applying himself to always be better.” Gragson also stated “I’m glad to kind of take him under my wing. It’s cool to see him be able to ask questions and talk about stuff when he’s young.” So I’m going to try to help him as much as possible.

Photo Credit: Elvin L. Anderson Jr.

Frankie Muniz, an Emmy and two Golden Globe Awards nominated Fox sitcom actor from Malcolm in the Middle was driving car 30. He debuted this year at the Daytona ARCA race.

“I want this more than I’ve wanted anything in my life,” Muniz said.

Muniz will be embarking on a 20-race schedule to gain stock car experience. He knows it will not be easy, but he wants to prove to himself that he is up to the challenge. He is driving for Rette Jones Racing. Although he doesn’t have much stock car racing, he is no stranger to racing as he raced open-wheel cars in the mid 2000. He was on his way to the IndyCar circuit until he was injured in a 2009 racing accident where he broke his back, pins inserted in his wrist, and injured his ribs. With his comeback to racing, he has finished pretty good – 11th at Daytona International Speedway and 6th at Phoenix Raceway.

Keep your eye out for Muniz’s Ford Mustang Car No. 30 next couple of races at Talladega Superspeedway (4/22), Kansas Speedway (5/6), and Charlotte Motor Speedway (5/26).

On Saturday afternoon, 18 year old high school senior Sammy Smith won the United Rentals 200 Xfinity Race. He is now the youngest NASCAR XFinity Series driver to win at Phoenix Raceway. This race was an unprecedented race with 11 cautions for 69 laps but luckily no one was seriously injured. Smith led 92 of 200 laps in car No 18 of Joe Gibbs Racing. He seemed to do it all with ease as his team gave him the write tuning for the track in Phoenix.

Photo Credit: Elvin L. Anderson Jr.

It was a tough task for Smith though, he was going up against some of the best drivers including teammate Ryan Truex, and Kyle Busch, who started near the back of the pack. Busch was able to pass Smith for a short time after the restart with 24 laps to go, but Smith kept on fighting and stayed in front of him for the rest of the race.

Stages (1) and (2) were all Justin Allgaier, he ran into some unfortunate luck on lap 178. He and JR Motorsports teammate Brandon Jones along with Sam Hunt Racing’s Kaz Grala made contact which eliminated Allgaier. This ended Allgaie’s streak of top-three finishes. He was very disappointed as he only had 22 laps remaining after slamming into the outside wall finishing 36th overall in the race.

“This is a dream come true, and I did know that at some point this was coming. It took a lot of hard work and a lot of great people around me. Without all of these guys, I wouldn’t be here” said Smith.

Photo Credit: Elvin L. Anderson Jr.

He made a big decision this year by deciding to do his senior year online so that he can race full time. This was Smith’s 13th start in the last two years Racing for Joe Gibbs Racing. He drove nine races for JGR last year and is now running full time for Gibbs. With this win, JGRs has now been in victory lane 16 times this year.

JGR has been there sixth consecutive years at this one mile track with six different drivers – impressive! Those six drivers are Christopher Bell (2018), Busch (2019), Brandon Jones (2020), Daniel Hemric (2021), and Ty Gibbs (2022).

Note: Post-race inspection concluded with no issues following the NASCAR Xfinity Series race, confirming Sammy Smith as the race winner.

UP NEXT:

ARCA Menards Series Race: General Tires 200, Talladega Superspeedway, April 22, 12:30 pm EST

Xfinity Race: Raptor 250, Atlanta Motor Speedway, March 18, 5:00 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKLnSHfXPvM