Chandler Smith entered the final race in the Round of 8 at Homestead-Miami Speedway 30 points above the cutoff line for advancing to the Championship 4 and knew that he had to just survive and post a decent finish in order to advance to the Championship 4 at Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway. Smith and the No. 18 Safelite team did just what they needed all day finishing seventh in Stage One, 10th in Stage Two and bringing home a 10th-place finish.
With the 10th-place result, Smith finished 13 points above the cutoff line and the 20-year-old diver will compete for his first NASCAR championship in two weeks at Phoenix.
Stage One Recap:
- Smith started the 134-lap race from the fourth position based off NASCAR’s performance matrix after Friday afternoon’s qualifying session was rained out.
- The Safelite Tundra would settle into the second spot for the first 10 laps before falling back to third halfway through the opening stanza.
- As Smith reported that his Toyota was “too tight,” he would lose four more spots in the closing laps of Stage One to finish seventh.
Stage Two Recap:
- Veteran crew chief Danny Stockman ordered up a four-tire and fuel stop with a wedge adjustment between stages. As the over-the-wall crew was coming around the car after completing the right-side tires another competitor in the stall behind them slid into the back of their stall and slowed their stop.
- After being the ninth truck to exit pit road, Smith elected to start on the bottom of the fourth row when Stage Two went green on lap 36.
- Stage Two would go green from start to finish with the Georgia driver once again reporting that he was “too tight.” He was in the eighth position with 15 laps remaining in the stage and then fell two more spots in the closing laps to finish Stage Two in 10th.
Final Stage Recap:
- Before hitting pit road, Smith communicated to Stockman that his Tundra “has too much rear turn.” The veteran crew chief ordered up a four-tire and fuel stop with more chassis adjustments and returned his driver to the track eighth.
- The Safelite Tundra lined up on the outside of the fifth row when the Final Stage went green on lap 66. Smith would run just inside the top 10 in the opening half of the stanza, reporting that he was “sideways and just holding on.”
- On lap 96, he pitted under green-flag conditions from the eighth position for four fresh tires, a full load of full and a trackbar adjustment. He returned to the track scored in the 18th position won lap 98 with multiple trucks still having to hit pit road for the final time.
- Pit stops cycled through with 30 laps remaining in the Final Stage and the Toyota Racing Development driver scored in the ninth position.
- The race would proceed to the finish caution free with Smith brining home a ninth-place result. It was his 15th top-10 finish across 22 starts this season.
Chandler Smith, driver of the No. 18 Safelite Tundra TRD Pro for KBM:
What does it mean to know that you’ll get to compete for the championship in Phoenix?
“That’s what we’ve been working on since we had a cushion after Talladega. Just starting to work on Phoenix stuff. We did work on things for this race. We knew we had to have a solid truck and not just completely bank on pointing our way in and we wanted to come here and try to win. But we just missed it here today. But that being said, we are all focused on going to run for a championship and I’m happy for that. Just being here with my Safelite KBM group, this is awesome to have the opportunity to go and run for a championship. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to do this again in my career. So really, really thankful for the opportunity. Just super blessed right now and feeling humbled.”
Are you one of the favorites along with Ty Majeski for the championship?
“I’ll let that be up to you guys. I think we should be okay at Phoenix. We were good there last year, good the year before and the year before that. So, I feel that’s a track that I do like. I feel like we have a really good package there obviously with how we did last year. At the end of the day, we’re racing for a championship. We made it this far and there’s a lot for us to be proud of this season no matter how you look at it.”
Baptist Health 200 Race Recap:
- Ty Majeski earned his second career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win. Zane Smith, Stewart Friesen, Ryan Preece, and Corey Heim rounded out the top-five finishers.
- There were two cautions for 10 laps and seven lead changes among five drivers.
How Smith’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Corey Heim, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished fifth
- John Hunter Nemechek, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished 35th
Camping World Trucks Playoff Standings:
Smith advances to the Championship 4 after finishing third on the playoff grid, 13 points above the cutoff line in the Round of 8.
Smith will be behind the wheel of the No. 18 Safelite Tundra TRD Pro when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway Nov. 3 for the Championship race. Live coverage of the Lucas Oil 200 will be on FS1, Motor Racing Network, and SiriusXM at 10 p.m. ET.