Chandler Smith: Driver, No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass® Toyota
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Overview:
Event: Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200, Race 19 of 22 (Race 1 in the Round of 8), 134 Laps –30/30/74; 201 Miles
Location: Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway at (1.5-mile tri-oval)
Date/Broadcast: Sept. 24, 2021, at 9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90
Mr. Smith Heads to the Round of 8:
Chandler Smith heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway Friday looking to build off the momentum of his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory. Smith muscled his way past reigning Truck Series champion Shelden Creed on a restart with five laps remaining at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and then held off Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) teammate John Hunter Nemechek to collect his first career victory in his 34th career start in NASCAR’s third division. The Safelite driver fended off playoff elimination with the hard-fought victory and will now open the Round of 8 fifth on the playoff grid, three points below the cutoff line for advancing to the Championship 4 at Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway. In addition to Las Vegas, the Round of 8 includes Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway Oct. 2 and Martinsville (Va.) Speedway Oct. 30.
Friday will be the Georgia native’s third start in Las Vegas. Earlier this year he finished ninth in the opening stage and 11th in Stage Two before getting spun in the Final Stage. After sustaining major damage, he was able to continue in the race, but was relegated to a 19th-place finish. Last September, he started fifth and finished fifth at the 1.5-mile venue.
The 19-year-old driver ranks third among full-time Camping World Truck Series competitors with 174 laps led this season. Overall, across 18 starts in 2021, he has recorded one win, four top-five and seven top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 17.3.
Smith finished the regular season 10th on the Camping World Truck Series 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.
The Toyota Racing Development driver has one win, 12 top-five, and 16 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 14.9 across 34 career Camping World Truck Series starts. In addition to his Bristol win, he has posted runner-up finished at Knoxville Raceway earlier this season and at Bristol in 2019.
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 guided KBM owner-driver Kyle Busch to a dominant victory in last year’s Camping World Trucks spring event at Las Vegas. He also was victorious with Dillon in 2010 at the Nevada track.
Safelite AutoGlass – the nation’s largest provider of vehicle glass repair, replacement, and recalibration services – will serve as the primary sponsor on Smith’s Tundra at Bristol and for 16 races total this season. Smith General Contracting and IT Consulting St. Petersburg, a total IT solutions company with a focus on network infrastructure, will be associate partners on the bedtop of the No. 18 Toyota for Friday’s 134-lap event.
Chandler Smith | Las Vegas Motor Speedway Preview
How rewarding was it to get your first victory in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series?
“It’s been a long time coming, that’s for sure. All week leading into Bristol, I kept talking about 2019 Bristol, what I felt like I did wrong and what I would have done differently in that same situation. It’s pretty ironic that it came down to pretty much the same situation, just a different driver and I did exactly what I said I would do different, for sure. The results were rewarding for sure.”
What is your outlook heading into this week’s race at Las Vegas?
“I’m definitely more confident than I was before, we’re coming with a completely different package than we had in the spring, and I feel like this one is going to be pretty strong. We’ll be starting somewhere up in the front and track position is definitely key there – with it being a mile-and-a-half track, you want the clean air.”
Looking at the Round of 8, which track is the one that you feel will be the most challenging?
“So, if there is going to be a track that is going to give me a hard time, realistically I feel like it is going to be Vegas. I’ve ran pretty good at restrictor plate tracks and Martinsville is a short track, which is kind of my forte. This will be my first time ever racing at Martinsville Speedway. I’m really excited to get going in these next three races and get my Safelite AutoGlass Toyota Tundra out front.”
Chandler Smith Career Highlights:
Across 34 career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts has recorded one win (Bristol Motor Speedway, 9/16/2021), 267 laps led, 12 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 14.9.
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 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra:
KBM-67: The No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass team will unload KBM-67 for Friday night’s race at Las Vegas. Smith most recently piloted this Tundra at Darlington in September, where he started ninth, led four laps and finished seventh. Kyle Busch was victorious with KBM-67 in July of 2020 at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth.
KBM Notes of Interest:
KBM drivers have collected five wins, four poles, 14 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes across 39 starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. They have earned a collective average starting position of 8.3, an average finish of 11.8 and have led 655 laps.
John Hunter Nemecheck collected the victory earlier this season at Las Vegas, while owner-driver Kyle Busch won in the spring of 2018, 2019 and 2020 and Erik Jones was victorious in the fall of 2014.
KBM holds the Camping World Truck Series records for most career wins (89) and most wins in a single season (14 in 2014). With his victory at Bristol Motor Speedway Chandler Smith became the 17th 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 22 career victories.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!