Chandler Smith Rolls Into Kentucky

Kyle Busch

Event: Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 (Race 7 of 23), 150 Laps -35/35/80; 225 Miles
Location: Kentucky Speedway in Sparta (1.5-mile tri-oval)
Date/Broadcast: July 11, 2020 at 6 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90

What You Need to Know
Heading to an area that is familiar with trifecta’s, the No. 51 Tundra team will look to pull off a trifecta of their own on Saturday evening at Kentucky Speedway. Racing prodigy Chandler Smith will take the reins of the JBL Tundra for his first NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series start of the season and his first start in his young career on a mile-and-a-half track in the Truck Series. The No. 51 team will be looking to complete a three-race winning streak with three different drivers behind the wheel. Owner-driver Kyle Busch dominated the Truck Series stop at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway June 13 and Brandon Jones brought home the win in the series most recent stop at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond Pa.

Smith, who turned 18 on June 26, is the latest highly touted prospect out of the Toyota Racing Development Program. The Georgia native produced three top-five and four top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 4.2 across his first four career NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series starts last season. He led 55 laps and finished eighth in his Gander Trucks debut at Iowa Speedway last July and then posted top-five finishes in his final three starts, including a runner-up finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

In addition to his limited Truck Series schedule this season, which is tentatively slated for eight races, Smith is also competing in his third season of part-time action in the ARCA Menards Series. He has made three starts in that series this season, winning twice; at Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway in March and in the series most recent stop at Lucas Oil Raceway in Claremont, Ind. His other start resulted in a runner-up finish at Pocono Raceway in June.

Across 23 career ARCA Menards Series starts, Smith has collected nine wins, nine poles, 1606 laps led, 17 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes en route to an average finish of 4.0. He set an ARCA Racing Series record by winning four consecutive poles to start his career and earned his first victory after leading a race-high 102 laps at Madison (Wis.) International Speedway in his fourth series start. Despite not competing full time, Smith paced the series in laps led each of the last two years.

Smith made one CARS Racing Tour Super Late Model start this year, finishing second to Bubba Pollard at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway on June 13. He made five starts for KBM’s Super Late Model program last season, earning a runner-up finish in the All-American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville (Tenn.) and sixth-place finishes in the Winchester 400 at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway and the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla.

The No. 51 team leads the owner point standings by 12 points over the No. 16 team after six events. So far this season the team has three wins, one pole, four top-five and four top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 6.3. Busch captured victories at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway, while Brandon Jones was victorious at Pocono Raceway.

Veteran crew chief Danny Stockman leads the No. 51 team in 2020. Stockman called the shots for Austin Dillon’s championship efforts in both the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series (2011) and the NASCAR Xfinity Series (2013) and has experience as a crew chief in all three national series. In Dillon’s Gander Trucks championship season, the pair totaled two wins, five poles, 10 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes. The majority of Stockman’s experience atop the pit box has come in the Xfinity Series, where his drivers have recorded seven wins, 19 poles, 80 top-five and 148 top-10 finishes across 209 starts from 2012 to 2018. At Kentucky in Truck Series action, his drivers had two poles, 46 laps led, one top-five and two top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 8.3 across three starts. He scored two Xfinity Series wins with Dillon in the Bluegrass State, sweeping the 2012 events, including leading 192 of 200 laps in the June race.

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Chandler Smith, Driver Q&A:

How hard has it been through the pandemic to have to wait until July to get your first Truck Series start of the season?

“Yeah — It’s obviously been really hard for me waiting all the way until over halfway through the year to get my first Truck Series start. My first race of the year was supposed to be in April at Richmond. Obviously, the virus kept me from doing that. It’s been really hard for me. I’m anxious and ready to get together with Danny (Stockman) and all my JBL guys. I am really pumped! The No. 51 team already has three wins, but I am looking forward to adding a few more to their resume.”

How have you prepared for what will be your first mile-and-a-half race in the Truck Series?

“I’ve done a lot of research and film watching with Danny and my engineer. I have done a lot of sim time as well. I think the biggest thing for me will be just working around the air, getting used to the air, and racing around people. Most importantly, once I get into clean air, execute and make sure I do good on pit stops. If we have a green flag pit stop, don’t get caught for speeding or anything like that. I am really excited for it though.”

How do you approach running a limited schedule in both the ARCA Menards and the Truck Series competing against other drivers that are mostly running for a series championship?

“My general rule of thumb in anything I race is – no matter if I am running full-time or part-time – I am going to go out there and give it my best shot. I am out there to win races. At the end of the day, my end goal is always going to be winning a race, whether I’m running for a championship or just in it to get seat time. No matter what in ARCA or Trucks, I am going out there with my JBL Tundra or Camry to try and win some races.”

Chandler Smith Career Highlights:

Produced three top-five and four top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 4.2 across his first four career NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series starts last season. He led 55 laps and finished eighth in his Gander Trucks debut at Iowa Speedway last July and then posted top-five finishes in his final three starts, including a runner-up finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

Has collected nine wins, nine poles, 1606 laps led, 17 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes en route to an average finish of 4.0 across 23 career ARCA Menards Series starts. Set an ARCA Racing Series record by winning four consecutive poles to start his career and earned his first victory after leading a race-high 102 laps at Madison (Wis.) International Speedway in his fourth series start.

Despite competing in a limited schedule, he led the ARCA Menards Racing Series in laps led in 2018 and 2019.

Smith has also competed in some of the biggest Super Late Model events the last few seasons. He earned his first marquee win in January of 2018 in the CRA SpeedFest at Crisp Motorsports Park in Cordele, Ga., edging out short-track legend Bubba Pollard.

Chandler Smith No. 51 JBL Tundra:

KBM-57: The No. 51 JBL team will race KBM-057 for Saturday’s race at Kentucky. Kyle Busch led 25 laps and finished second with the Tundra at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in May. Todd Gilliland produced three top-10 finishes with it across four starts last year.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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