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Everything That Happened in the Xfinity Race at Phoenix

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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What’s Happening?

As the checkered flag waived in Phoenix, the 2024 edition of the West Coast Swing came to a close. How did your favorite Xfinity Series driver fare in the Valley of the Sun? Well, let’s talk about it! Here’s Everything That Happened in the Xfinity Series Race at Phoenix International Speedway!

You Need To Know:

  • There were some heavy hitters in this race as both 2024 Daytona 500 winner, William Byron brought the No. 17 Hendrick All-Star car with him to go trophy hunting and former Cup vet, Aric Almirola made his NASCAR return in the JGR No. 19. Former Cup Series regular and defending Xfinity Series Champion, Cole Custer, nabbed the pole.
  • It was the Toyotas of Joe Gibbs Racing who showed the most speed in qualifying as Chandler Smith nabbed the outside pole. Also fast were his JGR teammates Aric Almirola and John Hunter Nemechek as they started in or around the top 5.
  • Fans had a lot to say throughout this race. Many commented on the fairly uneventful racing and how hard it was to pass. Frankie Muniz had a lot of fans on X (or Twitter). Many fans were critical of both NASCAR race control for the “phantom” caution and Chandler Smith’s overly aggressive driving, calling them “triggers” to the carnage that took place with 78 laps to go.

Early Trouble For Josh Williams

In the first caution for incident on the day, the No. 51 of Jeremy Clements got loose racing under Josh Williams in the No. 11 and Sheldon Creed in the 18. This caused Clements to slide up the track and get into Williams who then spun around, lightly hitting the inside wall with the nose of his Kaulig Racing Chevy. Also involved in the incident was the No. 4 of Dawson Cram who seemingly got tagged from behind as he checked up. There was light damage to the rear bumper of his car.

You can watch this incident unfold in the clip below.

Chandler Smith Dominates and Wins Stage 1

When the race went green, polesitter, Chandler Smith, rocketed out front and never really looked back. He led all 45 laps of the first stage en route to his first stage win of the year.

However, mistakes on pit road cost the No. 81 of Smith his commanding lead. He restarted the second stage in the 4th position as Cole Custer was able to capitalize and take the lead away.

Pole Sitter Cole Custer Regains The Lead And Takes Stage 2

With the issues on pit road for Stage 1 winner, Chandler Smith, Phoenix polesitter, Cole Custer, regained the first spot and never looked back. He would lead all 45 laps of the second stage without incident, taking the Stage 2 victory.

Also making moves in the first stage was Justin Allgaier in the No. 7 for JR Motorsports. He was able to wrestle away second place from Stage 1 winner, Chandler Smith and was even able to reel in leader Cole Custer though he was unable to complete a pass on the 00. Also on the move was Aric Almirola as he was able to pass his teammate in the 81 to finish 3rd in the stage.

On full display in the second stage was just how slick the track conditions were in Phoenix. Here you can see Shane van Gisbergen get loose and chase his No. 97 Kaulig Chevy up the track to save it.

Hailie Deegan Brings Out Caution; Frankie Muniz Retires From Race

While the FOX coverage was away for a commercial break, Hailie Deegan found herself in something of a hairy situation as she slid up the track and got into the outside SAFER barrier. She received minimal damage and was able to continue but the incident did trigger the second caution for incident of the day. Check out what happened in the clip below.

During this break for caution, Frankie Muniz pulled his struggling No. 35 Ford into the garage and exited the race. At the time of caution, Muniz was 11 laps down.

Contact Between J. H. Nemechek and Chandler Smith Triggers Big One on Phoenix Backstretch

Following a round of pit stops, the race restarted with 57 laps to go. John Hunter Nemechek in the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing won the race off pit road and restarted in the first position. However, a slow restart led to the 20 being mired back in traffic as Justin Allgaier rocketed out to the lead.

What started the incident was the over-aggressive driving of Nemechek’s teammate, Chandler Smith in the No. 81. As the 20 was falling back into the clutches of Riley Herbst and Smith, the No. 81 kept getting into the No. 20, causing Nemechek to turn dead-right and into traffic. Nemechek was then hit by Sam Mayer in the No. 1 for JRM which totally destroyed both vehicles. Mayer then shot up the track and collected the No. 31 of Parker Retzlaff while his Jordan Anderson teammate, Jeb Burton, tagged the back of a slow Riley Herbst, causing damage to both cars.

There were a total of 13 cars involved in this incident. Chandler Smith escaped virtually unscathed. You can watch the carnage in the clip below.

Here’s the wreck from a different angle.

The incident prompted NASCAR to throw a red flag so that safety crews could clean up the track.

After Sam Mayer got out of his No. 1 Tire Pros Chevy, he just wanted to know what the heck happened.

Heart-Breaking Loss For Justin Allgaier

While the likes of Cole Custer and Chandler Smith were fast early on, it was Justin Allgaier who had the most consistent speed. After the JGR carnage with 78 laps to go, Allgaier rocketed out front and was scooting off to victory lane when disaster struck. His left rear tire went down, sending Allgaier hard into the outside wall, ending his day. If Allgaier had held on, he would have tied his boss, Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the all-time Xfinity Series winners list. Unfortunately, he’ll have to wait on that accomplishment. You can watch the crash in the video clip below.

Allgaier was checked and released from the infield care center but was obviously frustrated.

Chandler Smith Sneaks Away With The Win

The No. 81 of Chandler Smith was fast the whole race. He downright dominated the first stage but struggles on pit road would keep miring him back in traffic. However, after Allgaier’s misfortunes with only 4-laps to go, Smith inherited the lead. When the race restarted under overtime rules, the No. 81 rocketed out front and never looked back. Chandler Smith is your winner of the Spring Xfinity Race at Phoenix, virtually locking him into the 2024 Xfinity Series playoffs.

Around the Garage

One major storyline heading into today’s race in the Valley of the Sun was Frankie Muniz making his second-ever Xfinity Series start in the No. 35 Ford. While he was in underfunded equipment and struggled pretty much all day (even getting a restart violation and having to serve a pass-through penalty at the beginning of the final stage), he was still having a blast. He said it was like “drinking from a fire hose!”

NASCAR on FOX caught up with a broken-hearted Justin Allgaier after the race. This is what he had to say.

In The Stands

After Frankie Muniz enthusiastically stated that he was “drinking from a firehose”, Jeff Lambert commented, “how can you not like this guy”?

Meanwhile, Nick Reust said that if he were Muniz’s spotter, he would make a lot of Malcome in the Middle jokes at his driver’s expense.

After the incident between Chandler Smith and his JGR teammate J. H. Nemechek, many outraged fans took to X (or Twitter) to voice their displeasure with NASCAR’s race control. This is because many of them viewed the Deegan caution to be a “phantom” caution. Scott here dubbed the decision “embarrassing”.

After the Allgaier incident, Brad Arthur took to X, placing the blame squarely on Goodyear.

NASCAR fans were not kind on social media following Smith’s win. Lucas dubs the race a “joke” after Smith “wrecked the field” and still won.

Jude Fernandez also criticized Smith, placing the blame squarely on him for causing the Big One.

Craig Livingston calls out Smith’s aggressive driving, pointing out how he slammed into his teammate multiple times before finally turning him. Does he have a point? Hmm…

From The Pressbox

Per Dustin Albino on X, Chandler Smith reportedly voiced concerns about getting his “ass scolded” during the Monday team meeting.

Conclusion

Thus ends yet another race for the Xfinity Series in Phoenix. The kindest way to put it is that “it was a race”. It sure was. What did you think about it, Daily Downforce readers? Did you enjoy the racing product? Did you think it was lackluster? What are your thoughts on Smith sneaking away with the victory? What about Allgaier’s misfortunes? How did your favorite Xfinity Series driver do? Let us know! And be sure to come back tomorrow at DailyDownforce.com for our coverage of the Cup race out in the Valley of the Sun!

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
All Posts