Chandler Smith: Driver, No. 18 JBL® Toyota
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Overview:
Event: In It To Win It 200, Race 17 of 22 (Race 2 in the Round of 10), 147 Laps – 45/45/57; 200.1 Miles
Location: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway at (1.33-mile egg-shaped oval)
Date/Broadcast: Sept. 5, 2021 at 1:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90
Mr. Smith Meets the Lady in Black:
Chandler Smith and the No. 18 JBL team head to Darlington Raceway for the second race in the Round of 10 of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs looking to rebound from a disappointing start to the rookie driver’s inaugural playoff campaign. A hub issue in the opening stage at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway forced Smith to the garage for several laps and relegated the Georgia native to a 28th-place finish in the first of three races in the Round of 10. The Georgia native currently sits 18 points below the cutoff line for advancing to the Round of 8 with two races remaining.
Smith finished the regular season 10th on the playoff grid, 10 points above the cutoff line for qualifying for the post season, after posting three top-five and five top-10 finishes across 15 races. Smith and fellow Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Carson Hocevar are the only two drivers who are competing for a driver’s championship for the first time. The other eight contenders have all competed for the Truck Series championship at least one time in previous seasons.
While this is his first competing for a Camping World Truck Series driver’s championship, Smith has at least one Truck Series start at all seven tracks that will be contested during the 2021 playoffs, including two starts at Darlington. Earlier this year at the 1.33-mile-oval, Smith finished the opening stage seventh and Stage Two fourth before getting caught up in a 17-truck pileup on the frontstretch that would relegate him to a 27th-place finish. Last September, the talented teenager was running sixth with just under 20 laps remaining when a loose wheel forced him to pit road under green-flag conditions and left him with a disappointing 23rd-place finish.
The 19-year-old driver ranks third among full-time Truck Series drivers with 165 laps led this season. He accumulated 119 of those laps led over the final four races of the regular season.
The Toyota Racing Development driver has 11 top-five, and 14 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 15.6 across 32 career Camping World Truck Series starts. His runner-up finish at Knoxville Raceway earlier this season equaled the career-best finish he achieved at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in 2019.
While this is Smith’s first time taking part in the driver’s portion of the NASCAR Camping World Serie playoffs, he has been a part of the owner’s playoffs for the No. 51 team each of the last two seasons. Last year, he recorded top-five finishes in all three races of the Round of 10 (Bristol Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway) advancing the No. 51 team to the Round of 8. He opened the Round of 8 up with another top-five finish at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City before an accident relegated him to a 21st-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth in the second race of the round and then after Brandon Jones finished 17th in the final race in the Round of 8 the No. 51 team was eliminated from playoff contention.
Veteran crew chief Danny Stockman calls the shots for Smith and the No. 18 team this season. Stockman led the No. 51 team to four wins in his first season atop the pit box at KBM in 2020. He came to the organization with experience as a crew chief in all three national series, including a Truck Series championship with Austin Dillon in 2011 and an Xfinity Series championship with Dillon in 2013. Stockman’s Truck Series drivers have three starts at Darlington, with Dillon’s fifth-place finish in 2010 being the best result. In Xfinity Series action, his best result across six starts was also a fifth-place result with Dillon in 2012.
JBL, the authority in engineering superior sound, will be the primary sponsor for the No. 18 team for the final time this season at Darlington.
Chandler Smith | Darlington Preview
What will your approach be at Darlington being 18 points below the cutoff line with two races remaining in this round?
“I think that you definitely have to look at the points a little bit, but at the same aspect you have to go out there and whatever happens, happens. Gateway was out of my control. At the end of the day, I can only do so much for myself. We have to regroup as a team and do our best at Darlington.”
You’ve had fast Tundras at Darlington, is it a track that seems to fit your driving style?
“I think it’s more of the characteristics that Darlington holds. It’s a really technical race track, it’s really wore out and you have to come completely off the throttle – which is a strong suite of mine. I haven’t been that great at mile and a halves lately, so Darlington is definitely one of my stronger race tracks and I’m looking to bring our JBL Toyota Tundra to victory lane.”
How will the conditions at Darlington be Sunday for a day race compared to what you experienced earlier this year with an evening race?
“Overall, I think it’s going to be a lot more greasier. With higher temperatures than it was the last time we were there it is going to make the track temperature a lot hotter and that will make it really slick.”
Chandler Smith Career Highlights:
Across 32 career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts has recorded 258 laps led, 11 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 15.6.
Posted an average finish of 7.7 across his final seven of 12 total Truck Series starts in 2020, including third-place finishes in the series finale at Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway and his first career superspeedway start at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in October.
Produced three top-five and four top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 4.2 across his first four career NASCAR Camping World 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, 1783 laps led, 22 top-five and 29 top-10 finishes en route to an average finish of 5.4 across 34 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.
Chandler Smith’s No. 18 JBL Tundra:
KBM-70: The No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass team will unload chassis number KBM-070 for Sunday’s 147-lap event at Darlington. Smith has piloted this Tundra three times this year, including a fifth-place finish it its most recent outing at Texas Motor Speedway in June and a sixth-place result at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in May.
KBM Notes of Interest:
KBM drivers have collected one win, 162 laps led, two top-five and four top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 14.3 across eight starts at Darlington. Kasey Kahne led a race-high 95 laps en route to victory in the 2011 event.
KBM holds the Camping World Truck Series records for most career wins (88) and most wins in a single season (14 in 2014). With his victory at the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track, Truex Jr. became the 16th different driver to win a Truck Series event for KBM. In addition to collecting a series-record seven Owner’s Championships, the organization has produced two championship-winning drivers: Erik Jones (2015) and Christopher Bell (2017).
The No. 18, the number which was on the first Tundra that went to victory lane for KBM in 2010, has 21 career victories.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!