NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Overview:
Event: Lucas Oil 150, Race 22 of 22, 150 Laps – 45/45/160; 150 Miles
Location: Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway (one-mile oval)
Date/Broadcast: Nov. 5, 2021, at 8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90
Mr. Smith Brings Rookie Season to a Close:
Chandler Smith and the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass team head to Phoenix Raceway for the final race of the rookie driver’s first full-time season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Smith’s bid for a spot in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship 4 came up three spots short when he finished fourth at Martinsville Speedway Saturday. Smith entered the event 34 points below the cutoff line for advancing to Phoenix, making it nearly a must-win situation. The talented teenager battled a tight-handling Safelite AutoGlass Tundra throughout the Martinsville event but found himself battling inside the top five for the final 50 laps of the race that extended into NASCAR overtime. In the end, a fourth-place finish was all the 19-year-old driver could muster in his first career start at “The Paperclip” and he ended the Round of 8 50 points below the cutoff line for advancing to the Championship 4.
Despite being in his first full-time season in the Truck Series, Smith has two previous starts at Phoenix. He finished third in just his fourth career start in 2019 and equaled that finish last year. He picked up the victory in his lone ARCA Menards Series start in the 2020 event.
The Toyota Racing product is in a close battle with Carson Hocevar for the Truck Series Rookie of the Year title. Smith enters Phoenix three points ahead of Hocevar for the honor. A KBM driver has won the award twice previously, Erik Jones in 2015 and William Byron in 2016.
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. The Georgia native fended off elimination in the Round of 10 when he collected his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory Sept. 16 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in the final race of the round. Smith muscled his way past reigning Truck Series champion Shelden Creed on a restart with five laps remaining and then held off his KBM teammate John Hunter Nemechek to collect the victory in his 34th career start in NASCAR’s third division. Overall, across 21 starts in 2021, Smith has recorded one win, five top-five and eight top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 17.6.
The Toyota Racing Development driver has one win, 13 top-five, and 17 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 15.3 across 37 career Camping World Truck Series starts. In addition to his Bristol win, he has posted two runner-up finishes; 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 in 2021. Stockman led the No. 51 team to four wins in his first season atop the pit box at KBM in 2020 and has earned one with Smith this season. 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. Across four starts at Phoenix, Stockman’s drivers have collected one top-five and two top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 6.0. His best result was a fifth-place finish with Dillon in 2011.
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 Phoenix, their 16th race as a primary sponsor this season. Smith General Contracting and QuickTie – a proprietary, patented hold down system for high wind and seismic construction – will be associate partners on the bedtop of the No. 18 Toyota for Friday’s 150-lap event.
Chandler Smith, Driver Q&A:
How would you evaluate your first full-season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series?
“We made it to the Round of 8 and almost made it to Phoenix. Had a must-win situation at Martinsville and came up a little short there, but still had a strong run. Big building blocks and we’ll try to build on something even bigger for the future. Really proud to be able to represent Toyota Racing, Safelite AutoGlass, JBL and everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports. We’ll try to go out and get another win at Phoenix.”
Talk about the chance to bring home Rookie of the Year honors in the Truck Series.
“Since we came up just a little short on a championship, I definitely think it would be a great honor to get the Rookie of the Year. It would be pretty cool for me considering it’s my first time racing full-time in any series since I was about 13 years old. I had expectations going into this year that I was expecting to be Rookie of the Year, so nothing has changed, and we’ll go out Friday night and try to secure that honor.”
You’ve finished inside the top five in both of your Truck Series starts at Phoenix, does it fit your driving style?
“I don’t know, Phoenix drives a lot like a short track and that’s my wheelhouse. It’s definitely one of our bigger short tracks, if you want to classify it as one. We were able to get the lead momentarily last year, hopefully we can put our Safelite AutoGlass Tundra in the mix and bring home the win this year.”
Chandler Smith Career Highlights:
Across 37 career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts has recorded one win (Bristol Motor Speedway, 9/16/2021), 267 laps led, 13 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 15.3.
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-70: The No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass team will unload KBM-70 for Friday’s race at Phoenix. Smith has recorded three top 10s across four starts in this Tundra in 2021, with its best result being a fifth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in June.
KBM Notes of Interest:
KBM drivers have collected eight wins, five poles, 985 laps led, 23 top-five and 37 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 8.9 across 57 starts at Martinsville.
Todd Gilliland picked up the organization’s most recent victory at the 0.526-mile oval in October of 2019. Kyle Busch (2017 & 2019). Denny Hamlin (2011 & 2012) and Darrell Wallace Jr. (2013 & 2014) have all collected two victories at the Virginia track while Noah Gragson (2017) has one win.
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!