By: Tadd Haislop
Last season, Ty Gibbs won the Sioux Chief Showdown championship with relative ease driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. The title was part of a dominant year for Gibbs in the ARCA Menards Series.
Driving the same car, but this time under the Kyle Busch Motorsports banner, Sammy Smith repeated Gibbs’ feat by securing the 2022 Sioux Chief Showdown championship.
Smith, the 18-year-old driver from Johnston, Iowa, clinched his first Showdown title with his win at Bristol Motor Speedway in the series finale on Sept. 15. On the way to that victory, he also clinched the ARCA Menards Series East championship for the second year in a row.
Established in 2015 as a short track challenge and having since evolved to include road-course events, the Sioux Chief Showdown is ARCA’s series within the series that brings together the best of the ARCA Menards Series, the ARCA Menards Series East and the ARCA Menards Series West.
Each year, the 10-race Sioux Chief Showdown, held at various short tracks and road courses, offers drivers who might not be old enough to race at bigger ovals a chance to compete for a championship against drivers who are. True to its purpose, the inaugural 2015 title was won by Kyle Weatherman, who was only eligible to compete in 15 of the 20 ARCA Menards Series races that year due to age restrictions.
Formerly known as the Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge, an expanded partnership with Sioux Chief beginning in 2020 increased the event purse and point fund significantly. It also added prestige and a variety of venues to the in-season championship. New guidelines and common rule packages were implemented, aiming to draw in teams that otherwise primarily compete in East or West Series races.
In 2022, Smith won four of the 10 races on the Showdown schedule — at Berlin Raceway, Elko Speedway, the Milwaukee Mile and Bristol. He also scored runner-up finishes at Iowa Speedway and Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, with third-place runs coming at Phoenix Raceway, the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.