NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Overview:
Event: World of Westgate 200, Race 18 of 23 (Race 2 in the Round of 10), 134 Laps – 30/30/74; 201 Miles
Location: Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile tri-oval)
Date/Broadcast: Sept. 25, 2020 at 9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90
Chatter about Chandler:
- Coming of a fifth-place finish last week at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Chandler Smith heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Friday’s World of Westgate 200. Smith overcame going a lap down in the opening stage of last week’s race at Bristol to earn his season-best finish in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.
- For Smith, it will be just his second career start on a mile-and-half track in Truck Series action. He started 10th and finished 22nd in the rain-shortened event at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta in July in his 1.5-mile track debut. The Georgia native did race on the two-mile circuit at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, where he led four laps but was relegated to a 38th-place finish after a mid-race accident, and the 1.336-mile circuit at Darlington (S.C.) Speedway where he was running sixth late in the race before a loose wheel relegated him to a 23rd-place finish.
- The No. 51 team dominated the February race at Las Vegas earlier this season. Owner-driver Kyle Busch captured both stages wins and the victory while leading 108 of 134 laps to secure his third Truck Series victory at his hometown track. Busch’s win at Las Vegas was one of a series-leading four wins for the No. 51 team this season, three with Busch and one with Brandon Jones.
- After Smith’s fifth-place finish last Thursday, the No. 51 team moved above the cutoff line in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series owner’s playoffs Round of 10. With two races remaining in the round, they are tied with the No. 16 team for the eighth position but have a better finish in the Round of 10, which is the tiebreaker. Smith will also be behind the wheel of the No. 51 Tundra for the final race of the round, 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.
- Smith 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 year, the Toyota Racing Development prodigy is also competing in his third season of part-time action in the ARCA Menards Series. He has made 11 starts in ARCA 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 11 of the 17 events, he ranks third in laps led (332). Across 31 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 4.9. His series-leading five wins helped propel the No. 20 Venturini Motorsports entry to an owner’s championship in 2019.
- 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 two wins in three Truck Series starts at Las Vegas. Dillon won the 2010 event and Kyle Busch won at his hometown track in the February race this year.
Chandler Smith, Driver Q&A:
Did last week’s result at Bristol give you a boost of confidence?
“Yes and no at the same time. Mainly because we haven’t been able to put a race together like we did at Bristol in the past three races, but our truck has been better than it was a Bristol. I feel like there were a few races where I feel like we should’ve finished top three, but something happened — it wasn’t in God’s will and it didn’t happen. At Bristol, we were mediocre. I felt like if we could’ve come down and took tires again and made an adjustment, we could’ve gotten a top-three out of it, but we weren’t that good. We finished top-five, and we had that type of truck. I would say that was our fourth best truck we’ve had all year, so yes and no. I think are going to be really good at Vegas.”
Now that you have some experience in the trucks on intermediate tracks do you feel that you’ll be able to better prepare for Las Vegas?
“The experience has definitely helped. The air is the biggest thing for me when it comes to these bigger tracks. It’s trying to learn it and maneuver around it and learn it a little more as the race goes on to be there at the end. I think it is going to be a big difference. I know Kentucky was my first race of the year and my first mile-and-a-half. At Las Vegas, you can run multiple grooves, which is going to be a big help for me. That was the biggest thing at Kentucky that I struggled with it being a one-groove racetrack. At Las Vegas, you can move around. I think that is going to be a big help for me adapting as well.”
The 51 team was dominant at Las Vegas in the spring with Kyle. How much will you lean on Kyle and the team’s notes from that race?
“I will definitely ask Kyle a few questions before I go out there. From what I’ve been told, from the spring to the race we are about to run this Friday, it will be completely different. The track will be different. The temperature will be different. The pace will be different. Honestly, it’s a different race. I went back and watched some in-car cameras from last year and will completely watch the race from last year. I remember watching it last year and definitely had some valuable notes I wrote down that I think I will put it into application. We are starting P5, so that is going to be big for us especially at these intermediates to start up front and have clean air. We are going to try to get up front and stay there all night and execute.”
Chandler Smith Career Highlights:
- Across 11 career NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series starts has recorded 91 laps led, four top-five and five top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 14.5.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 4.9 across 31career 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 No. 51 JBL/Smith General Contracting Tundra:
KBM-63: The No. 51 JBL/Smith General Contracting team will race KBM-63 for Friday’s race at Las Vegas. KBM owner-driver Kyle Busch wheeled the Tundra to victory earlier this season at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway. Most recently, Brandon Jones piloted the Toyota in both races of the July doubleheader at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, finishing 14th in the Friday race and eighth Saturday.
KBM Notes of Interest:
- KBM drivers have collected four wins, four poles, 11 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes across 33 starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. They have earned a collective average starting position of 7.8 and average finish of 12.3 and have led 540 laps.
- Erik Jones won the 2014 event while owner-driver Kyle Busch won in 2018, 2019 and the most recent event at the Nevada track, the February race earlier this year.
- KBM holds the NGROTS records for most career wins (79) and most wins in a single season (14 in 2014). 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).
- With 34 victories, the No. 51 is the winningest number in KBM’s Truck Series fleet.