Event: UNOH 200, Race 17 of 23 (Race 1 in the Round of 10),
200 Laps – 55/55/90; 106.6 Miles
Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway(0.533-mile oval)
Date/Broadcast: Sept. 17, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90
Chatter about Chandler:
Chandler Smith and the No. 51 JBL team head to Bristol Motor Speedway Thursday for the UNOH 200. The No. 51 team enters the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series owner’s playoffs Round of 10 as the ninth seed on the 10-team playoff grid, three points behind the cutoff line for advancing to the Round of 8.
Smith will be behind the wheel of the No. 51 Tundra for all three races in The Round of 10: Thursday night’s race at Bristol, Sept. 25 at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway and Oct. 3 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. KBM has captured a series record seven owner’s titles since its inception in 2010, including last year’s crown with the No. 51 team
Despite having four race wins, three with Kyle Busch and one with Brandon Jones, and seven stage wins, the team enters the postseason with just two playoff points, from their ninth-place finish in the regular season point standings because all of the race and stage wins came from driver’s in the Cup and Xfinity Series.
Smith will be making his seventh Gander Trucks start of 2020. He recorded a season-best 12th-place finish last week at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. Despite having some strong runs this season, the 18-year-old driver hasn’t had the finishes to show for it, compiling an average finish of 23.0 across his first six starts.
The Toyota Racing Development driver produced three top-five and four top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 4.2 across his four 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.
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 10 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 four times. Despite only starting in 10 of the 16 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 (332). Across 30 career ARCA Menards Series starts, Smith has collected nine wins, 10 poles, 1761 laps led, 21 top-five and 28 top-10 finishes en route to an average finish of 4.3.
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 20.0 across two Bristol starts in the Truck Series and an average finish of 7.8 across 13 starts in the Xfinity Series.
Chandler Smith Bristol Q&A
How much confidence does your runner-up finish at Bristol last year give you going into this year’s race?
“Definitely knowing I’ve had success there in the past and high-banked and fast tracks fit my driving style a little bit better, I would say gives me a confidence boost. I’m excited to get to Bristol with Danny and my whole crew. We are building on some strong momentum. We haven’t really been able to show for it, but we’ve had the speed and the trucks. I’m excited.”
You are also running the ARCA race on Thursday and they have a practice right before the truck race. How much of an advantage will that be for you over the other Truck Series drivers that won’t get any practice?
“It’s definitely going to benefit me considering it is a green racetrack. I definitely think the ARCA practice is going to help me for the truck race.”
How much focus will you put on where the No. 51 team is in the owner’s playoffs and trying to advance to the next round over the next three races?
“I’m going to keep in check of where we are in points because the bigger picture is winning the owner’s championship for our team. I’ll go out there and run my own race. I’ll need to make smart decisions and not put us in any bad situations. I think we will capitalize on that.”
Chandler Smith Career Highlights:
Across 10 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 15.5.
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, 1761 laps led, 21 top-five and 28 top-10 finishes en route to an average finish of 4.3 across 30 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.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!