Event: ToyotaCare 250, Race 16 of 23, 250 laps – 70/70/110; 187.5 miles
Location: Richmond (Va.) Raceway (0.75-mile D-shaped oval)
Date/Broadcast: Sept. 10, 2020, at 8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90
What You Need to Know:
Chandler Smith will make his sixth NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series start of 2020 driving the No. 51 JBL/Smith General Contracting Tundra Thursday at Richmond Racewa. Smith has had a tough start to his Gander Truck season, where across his five starts he has recorded average finish of 25.2. and had a best result of 20th at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
Smith was having a text-book day in his first start at Darlington on Sunday, racing the racetrack and moving forward as the race went along, until a loose wheel under green-flag conditions left him with another disappointing finish. Making just his ninth career NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series start, he had maneuvered his way up to the sixth position with just under 20 laps remaining when he reported a bad vibration. As the condition worsened, he was forced to pit road and would end the day a lap down in the 23rd position.
The Toyota Racing Development driver 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.
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 nine starts in the 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 three times. Despite only starting in nine of the 14 events, the racing prodigy sits ninth in the points standings, is tied for the series lead with two poles and ranks second in laps led (297). Across 29 career ARCA Menards Series starts, Smith has collected nine wins, 10 poles, 1726 laps led, 20 top-five and 27 top-10 finishes en route to an average finish of 4.4.
The No. 51 team ranks eighth in the Gander Trucks owner’s championship standings. With one race remaining in the regular season, the No. 51 team sits 141 tallies behind the No. 16 team and is ninth on the 10-driver playoff grid, 16 points above the cutoff line for making the owner’s playoffs. So far this season the team has four wins, seven stage wins, one pole, five top-five and six top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 13.9. 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.
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. Stockman’s drivers have produced an average finish of 22.7 in three Cup Series starts at Richmond and an average finish of 11.3 across 13 Xfinity Series starts at the 0.75-mile track.
Chandler Smith Richmond Q&A
Despite the results, do you feel that you are performing better each week now that you’ve been in the truck consistently?
“Since Dover, when we got out front and led some laps, we really haven’t been able to show it, but we’ve had really good speed. Once we put a race together, I think it’s going to be hard to beat us. The time is definitely coming. It’s going to happen before the year is over with. Me and Danny (Stockman) are clicking really good. We have to put those small little pieces together. It’s those pieces that build a championship team and we are building those building blocks. It’s going to be big at the end of the year.”
How do you prepare for Richmond with no current truck series videos to watch and your crew chief not having a notebook for the truck series that you can study?
“Honestly, I watched some Cup Series watching. I watched the previous races to see what the falloff really is. Other than that, I will be completely frank, I didn’t study much on Richmond. It’s a short track. There is not much to short tracks. If your background is a short track racer and that is your thing, then every short track has the same similarities of what makes the best speed. Richmond is definitely one of those tracks. I’ve done a ton of simulator time on it. It definitely has those characteristics to it. The tires seem to falloff pretty big there. That’s definitely where I kind of come in. I did it at Darlington as well. We fired off and kind of maintained. At the end of the run, we were pretty solid. We are going to do the same thing at Richmond and go get them.”
What would it mean to get your first truck series win in a race sponsored by Toyota?
“For me to get my first win on Thursday considering Toyota is sponsoring the race would be huge for myself and for Toyota. I think it will be really cool for them because I am one of the TD2 drivers that’s under development under Toyota’s wing. That would be a really cool story for those guys and a really cool story for me as well. I’m more motivated than ever to win this one specifically just because they’re sponsoring the race. It’d be just a cool story. Also, because it is Richmond — it’s a short track!”
Chandler Smith Career Highlights:
Across nine career NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series starts has recorded 91 laps led, three top-five and four top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 15.9.
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, 20 top-five and 27 top-10 finishes en route to an average finish of 4.4 across 29 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.
Chandler Smith No. 51 JBL/Smith General Contracting Tundra:
KBM-45: The No. 51 JBL/Smith General Contracting team will race KBM-45 for Thursday’s race at Richmond. Thursday will be the Tundra’s first start of the 2020 season. Kyle Busch captured KBM-45’s lone win in its debut race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in 2017.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!