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Chandler Smith Wins Second Xfinity Race of the Season at Richmond – Motorsports Tribune

Chandler Smith Wins Second Xfinity Race of the Season at Richmond – Motorsports Tribune

By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service

Chandler Smith led a Joe Gibbs Racing sweep at Richmond (Va.) Raceway Saturday afternoon cruising to a 4.495-seconds victory over teammates Aric Almirola and Tanner Gray in the ToyotaCare 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race.

It marks back-to-back wins in this race for Smith – answering his first career Xfinity Series victory last Spring – and he led the final 60 laps in the No. 81 JGR Toyota, 76 laps on the day for his third career win, second of the season. It was his teammate Almirola, who won both Stages and led a race best 95 of the 250 laps in his No. 20 JGR Toyota, but the former fulltime NASCAR Cup Series driver ultimately could not catch Smith, who pulled away in the closing laps.

“Never give up, never give up,” said Smith, who has top-10 finishes in all six races this year. “This car was not good. Stage 1 wasn’t good, but we were able to do some strategy there with this No. 81 Supra in Stage 2.

“Back here winning races on a consistent basis and took over the points lead too, I’m just blessed,” he added.

For his part Almirola acknowledged he just didn’t have what he needed to catch the 21-year old Georgia-native in the closing laps. He’ll have another chance at victory next week as he’s in the car again at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

“We just got a little bit too loose,” Almirola said. “The run before that in Stage 2, when I took off my car was really, really good. At the end, it just felt a little tight and that last run for whatever reason, different set of tires or what, I let Chandler go and when I started to just creep back to him, I didn’t have anything to go with.

“I was too loose in and couldn’t get throttle down on exit. Hate that to win both stages and feel like we had the dominant car and then to let it slip away there at the end, is disappointing.”

The JGR team can also take pride in its third-place finish – considering it was the 19-year old Gray’s series debut. NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series full-timer Corey Heim was fourth followed by series rookie Jesse Love.

It was also a big outing for renowned late model racer Bubba Pollard, punctuating his series debut with a sixth-place finish in the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet – particularly impressive considering Pollard started 37th.

“I just got behind in qualifying there and it made for a long day,” Pollard said. “But these guys gave me a great race car, JR…

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