Event: NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series 200, Race 11 of 23
100 laps – 20/20/60; 200 miles
Location: Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn (two-mile oval)
Date/Broadcast: Aug. 7, 2020 at 6 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90
What You Need to Know:
Chandler Smith will make his second NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series start of 2020 driving the No. 51 JBL Tundra Friday at Michigan International Speedway. Smith, who is driving a limited Truck Series schedule, made his season debut in July at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta where he started 10th and finished 22nd in a rain-shortened event that was his first mile-and-a-half start in NASCAR’s third division.
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, Smith is also competing in his third season of part-time action in the ARCA Menards Series. He has made six starts in that series this season, winning twice; at Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway in March and at Lucas Oil Raceway in Claremont, Ind. and finishing in the runner-up spot twice; including his most recent start, on Aug. 2 at Toledo (Ohio) Speedway. Despite only starting six of the 10 events, the racing prodigy sits eighth in the points standings, is tied for the series lead with two poles and is second in laps led (297).
Across 26 career ARCA Menards Series starts, Smith has collected nine wins, 10 poles, 1606 laps led, 19 top-five and 24 top-10 finishes en route to an average finish of 4.2. 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 ranks second in the owner’s point standings after 10 races, trailing the No. 16 team by four tallies. So far this season the team has four wins, one pole, four top-five and four top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 8.3. Kyle Busch captured victories at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway, Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, while Brandon Jones was victorious at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.
Chandler Smith, Driver Q&A:
What are the challenges with running both a limited schedule in the Truck Series and the ARCA Menards Series?
“I’m definitely going to have to say one of the biggest challenges of going between ARCA and Trucks is the tires to be honest. ARCA tends to tighten up as the run goes on because of how the tire builds up and the heat in the tire. In trucks, here recently with the new tire model, it has been completely opposite. That’s been the biggest thing for me. They just got through taking 100 horsepower away on the ARCA cars, which is about the same as trucks now. Before, it was the power differential. ARCA had a little bit more power. As of now, I will definitely have to say the tire.”
What were you able to learn at Kentucky in your first intermediate-track start in the Truck Series and where do you need to improve?
“Our biggest struggle at Kentucky was that we needed to log laps, and obviously, the rain shortened that. Our balance overall was really loose. I could barely put enough wheel input just to make the corner without spinning out I felt like. We never really got the chance to work on it and get the truck to where it really needed to be. Kentucky was just honestly my first mile-and-a-half. I just got used to the speed and how everything was going. The PJ1 I feel like made it a one groove racetrack, so it was kind of a messed up deal. Overall, I feel like Michigan is going to be a lot better for us. I’ve done more studying and I feel like we have our JBL Tundra dialed in a lot better this time. We may be in contention to win this race.”
From what you’ve seen in preparing for Michigan do you feel like it will race like a 1.5-mile track or be another new experience for you?
“I don’t think Michigan is going to drive a lot like Kentucky and that is the only mile-and-a-half experience I have. The other two-mile experience I have is Pocono in an ARCA car. I feel like Michigan is going to be about track position. It’s about being in the right place and at the right time and not putting your truck in a bad situation or yourself in a bad situation. I think that is going to be key. I don’t think it’s going to be more comparison to Kentucky.”
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 in 2019. 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, 10 poles, 1726 laps led, 19 top-five and 24 top-10 finishes en route to an average finish of 4.2 across 26 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-67: The No. 51 JBL team will race KBM-67 for Friday’s race at Michigan. Kyle Busch led 72 laps en route to victory with the Tundra at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth in its first career start.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!