Having entered Tuesday night’s Race to Stop Suicide 200 presented by Place of Hope at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway as the defending ARCA Menards Series East champion, Sammy Smith had little to prove on the half-mile paved oval.
But the 17-year-old from Johnston, Iowa, did want a crack at redemption given how last year’s East Series season-opener played out at the same venue.
Smith, who finished second last year after Max Gutiérrez stole the victory on the final stretch, won Tuesday at New Smyrna on the strength of a strong final run having battled with rival Taylor Gray for the majority of the 200-lap event.
Smith started on the General Tire Pole on Tuesday after pacing the field in the afternoon’s combined practice/qualifying session. He and Gray traded the lead multiple times throughout the race thanks in part to a series of cautions, some of which were prompted by passing light rain showers.
On the final restart of the race, though, with six laps to go, Gray got a sluggish launch on the inside. That was all Smith needed to be able to cruise to the checkered flag with relative ease.
“(Gray) was jumping the restarts every time,” Smith said. “But we were able to get out of that one and get the win.”
— ARCA Racing —