Sami Smith in victory lane. (ARCA Racing photos)
WEST ALLIS, Whisk. – There was a point on Sunday during the Sprecher 150 at the Milwaukee Mile when Sammy Smith didn’t have the dominant car. Taylor Gray took the lead from Smith near the halfway point of the event and topped during the second break of the scheduled race breaks.
But that time did not last long. Smith regained the lead in the ensuing restart and proceeded to leave no doubt that he was the driver who won Sunday afternoon on the historic one-mile oval track.
Smith, 18, took his third ARCA Menards (national) Series win of the year when he took the checkered flag at the Sprecher 150, which was also the penultimate race of the ARCA Menards Series East season. In that series, the win was Smith’s fourth in six races this year.
“I’m not sure what we did there when (the first) stopped, but it wasn’t very good,” Smith said of his first race break on Sunday. “I managed to stay with [Gray]but I felt we needed to get away from him to protect my progress, and the changes we made on the last leg were great.”
Smith, who started Sunday’s race on the General Tire Bull, entered Sunday’s race with a 27-point lead over Gray in the East Series standings. That edge will grow as the series enters its season finale at Bristol Motor Speedway on Thursday, September 15th, for another composite race with the ARCA Menards Series.
Driving Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2022, Smith is the defending East Series champion. He has scored in the top five in all six Eastern Series races this season.
Smith also finished fifth in ninth in nine of the 11 ARCA Menards series starting in 2022.
Not including Brandon Jones, who won a composite race at Iowa Speedway in June, Gray remains the only driver not called Smith to win the East Series this year. He has five places in the top five in six Eastern races.
“I feel like we lost a lot of our front grip there at the end,” Gray said of Sunday’s race in Milwaukee. “Phase two, I thought we had a really good car. Then we didn’t do enough to make the track tighter in time. Just go back to the shop and keep working and keep getting better.”
Daniel Day, Raja Karruth and Nick Sanchez finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in Milwaukee. This is notable given that these three drivers are in a tight race for the 2022 ARCA Menards Series Driver’s Championship.
Sanchez entered the 15th race of the season with a 13-point lead over Dai in second and a 17-point lead over Racing teammate Carruth, in third. That lead will diminish as Sanchez finishes behind both Day and Carruth in Milwaukee.
Five races still in the ARCA Menards Series season, with events at DuQuoin State Fairgrounds (September 4), Kansas Speedway (September 10), Bristol Motor Speedway (September 15), Salem Highway (October 1) and Toledo Speedway (October 8) no Still on schedule.
Landon Pembleton, Jesse Love, Jake Finch, Greg Van Alst and Matthew Gould made the top ten in Milwaukee. Gould came in at number 10 on his debut in the ARCA Menards series.
Sunday’s race was virtually accident-free, with the only warning of an accident arriving on lap 3, when Alex Clubb snapped a tire and crashed into a wall to bring out the first yellow flag in the afternoon.
The Sprecher 150 was also the eighth stop for this year’s Sioux Chief Showdown, a series in the ARCA Menards Series. As he did in the East Series standings, Smith grew his lead over Gray in the Showdown rankings with his victory.
The ARCA Menards series returns to action Sunday, September 4, with the completion of the Rust-Oleum Auto 100 at DuQuoin, the second of two dirt races on the schedule. If Love, the Springfield Mile winner from last week, gets a DuQuoin, he will win a $50,000 reward as part of the Performance Seed Dirt Double.
The East Series will return to action on September 15 for the Championship race in Bristol.