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Champ outduels Gray in KBM debut

Late Model Digest

From series reports

SAMSULA, Fla. (Feb. 15) – Sammy Smith’s 2021 championship campaign in the ARCA Menards Series East began in a frustrating fashion. He led the most laps in that season opener at New Smyrna Speedway, only to come home second.

The unfinished business was completed to start the 2022 ARCA season for the 17-year-old from Johnston, Iowa. Smith emerged from a race-long duel with Taylor Gray to win on the fifth night of the 55th annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.

Smith, now with Kyle Busch Motorsports after his title run with Joe Gibbs Racing, started on the pole and swapped the point multiple times with Gray. Most of those lead changes came on restarts, but Gray didn’t get a great launch on the final restart with six laps left, leaving Smith with a relatively-easy run to the checkered flag and his fourth career win in a heavy car.

“He was jumping the restarts every time, but we were able to get out of that one and get the win,” said Smith, sponsored by TMC Transportation, Pilot Flying J, and Sinclair Tractor.

Gray was also looking for some redemption, as he had the lead at the white flag of the 2021 event here before falling victim to Gutierrez’s three-wide move. Gray was stuck in second at the end this time, but that was one position ahead of Gutierrez.


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