Sammy Smith triple-dipped Thursday night at Bristol Motor Speedway in the ARCA Menards Series and ARCA Menards Series East combination race at the 0.533-mile oval.
First, he won the race. Second, he claimed the Sioux Chief Showndown title. And third, claimed the 2023 ARCA Menards Series East championship. The driver of the No. 18 Toyota finished the year winning five of the seven races on the East series calendar and earning seven top five and top 10 finishes.
All Smith wanted to do coming into the race was win the event somehow.
“These two championships mean a lot, but it wouldn’t have felt the same if we didn’t win the race,” Smith said afterward. “All of these guys worked so hard all season and I’m glad we could pull this off.”
As for the win, it didn’t come easy as Smith was challenged by teammate Brandon Jones for the lead in a green-white-checker finish on the short track.
Piloting the No. 81 entry, Brandon Jones, leader of 11 laps, finished second by 0.234 seconds.
“I thought our Camry really came to life during those last 30 laps or so,” Jones said. “We started to catch Sammy, but I didn’t want to rough him up too much. I gave it all I had and I think I just got in too deep down in Turns 3 and 4. I’m kicking myself a little bit for that, but this is a big help for [Friday’s Xfinity] race.”
Taylor Gray sat third on the leaderboard followed by Rajah Caruth, Daniel Dye, and Parker Chase.
Andres Perez de Lara joined the ARCA Menards Series East for his debut at Bristol on Thursday. With 14 career NASCAR Mexico FedEx Challenge starts resulting in nine top-five and 11 top-10 finishes, Lara scored the seventh spot.
Andy Jankowiak, Connor Mosack, and Jesse Love rounded out the top 10 finishers.
The ARCA Menards Series circuit heads to Salem for the penultimate race of 2022 on October 1. Coverage of the event airs live on MAVTV and FloRacing at 4:00 p.m. ET.