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Sammy Smith Earns Huge Third Place Finish at Charlotte

Sammy Smith

Sammy Smith pre-race at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the BetMGM 300. (Photo: Phil Cavali | The Podium Finish)

CONCORD, N.C. — Momentum is a tough thing to build in racing, but once it gets on your side it can do wonders for a driver. That’s something that Sammy Smith had been missing the last three races NASCAR Xfinity Series races.

Smith came into the BetMGM 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in desperate need of a good run with his No. 8 team after three tough weeks, and he got that.

After qualifying 16th Smith worked his way up through the field and ran the majority of the race in or just outside the top 10, even earning five stage points in Stage 1.

During Stage 2 despite earning no points, the No. 8 team was able to save a set of tires for a late caution to have a tire advantage over the rest of the field, and on Lap 170, they got exactly what they needed.

The strategy along with two other timely cautions taking out top drivers propelled Smith to a third-place finish.

Sammy Smith

Sammy Smith (8) battling for position during the BetMGM 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo: Phil Cavali | The Podium Finish)

“It feels great to walk away with a top-three finish today for Pilot Flying J and my guys,” Smith said. “That late-race caution, along with Adam’s (Wall, Crew Chief) tire strategy really played in our favor today and I’m happy that it did.”

“I feel like we were just a mid-top 10-car and we were able to make ourselves a top three-car,” said Smith. “It was a great call by everyone on the team.”

One of the other drivers to save a set of tires was Chase Elliott, who went on to win the race ahead of Smith’s JR Motorsports teammate Brandon Jones and himself. But both JRM drivers were able to keep up with Elliott and Smith thinks that given another shot he could have captured the checkered flag.

“We were equal on tires, both had stickers and Brandon (Jones) had the scuffs and looked pretty good,” Smith said. “I would’ve definitely liked to have another shot at it, so I feel like we could’ve.”

Even though not reaching Victory Lane the first top five of the season comes at a huge time for Smith after three consecutive finishes outside of the top 20 hurt in the point standings and also shot the momentum built early in the season.

Sammy Smith

Sammy Smith racing during the BetMGM 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo: Landen Ciardullo | The Podium Finish)

“It was everything really,” Smith told reporters after the race. “I feel like we’ve had good cars all year and had a lot of issues and struggles, but I feel like this is a good start for what we need to be doing for the rest of the season.”

Smith finished inside the top 10 in six of the first eight races and even during the three-race slump, two mechanical failures while running inside the top five ended those good runs.

Heading to two consecutive road courses with Portland and Sonoma, Smith looks to carry the momentum from a top-five run to a style of track he has run well at in the past.

“Now it’s on to two straight road courses where we will hopefully keep this positive momentum going,” Smith said.












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