NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Overview:
Event: Lucas Oil 150, Race 23 of 23, 150 Laps – 45/45/60; 150 Miles
Location: Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway (one-mile oval)
Date/Broadcast: Nov. 6, 2020 at 8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90
Chatter about Chandler:
- Chandler Smith and the No. 51 JBL team head to Phoenix Raceway for the final event of the 2020 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. The reigning owner’s champions were knocked out of this year’s playoffs last weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway after finishing 52 points behind the cutoff line for advancing from the Round of 8 to the Championship 4. Friday’s race will mark this first time since the 2012 season that KBM doesn’t have a driver or team mathematically alive for a championship entering the final race of the season.
- The Toyota Racing Development driver ran inside the top five for the majority of last year’s Truck Series event at Phoenix making his way from fifth to third on the final restart with 44 laps remaining and maintaining that position when the field took the checkered flag. Smith was victorious in the ARCA Menards Series race at Phoenix in March, taking the lead from fellow Toyota competitor Ty Gibbs on an overtime restart and then finished 0.303 seconds ahead of teammate Michael Self.
- Smith has compiled 37 laps led, four top-five and four top-10 finishes across his 11 Truck Series starts this season. He saw a four-race top-five streak end in his last race at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth after contact from another competitor sent him into the wall in the Final Stage and relegated him to a 21st-place finish. The 18-year-old racing prodigy finished a season-best third in his first-ever superspeedway race Oct. 3 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and has finished fifth at Kansas Speedway, Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway. The 18-year-old’s average finish over the last six Truck Series events this year is 8.5 compared to an average finish of 25.2 across his first five starts this season.
- In addition to his limited Truck Series schedule this year, the Toyota Racing Development prodigy competed in his third season of part-time action in the ARCA Menards Series. He finished the ARCA season with two wins, two poles, 332 laps led, eight top-five and 10 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 6.4. Across 32 career ARCA Menards Series starts, Smith has collected nine wins, 10 poles, 1761 laps led, 22 top-five and 29 top-10 finishes en route to an average finish of 5.2.
- Wes Ward, who has served as shop foreman at KBM since 2015, will serve as the interim crew chief for the No. 51 team this week while Danny Stockman serves his suspension for the wheel that fell off two races ago at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth. Ward is a veteran crew chief with more than 300 Xfinity Series races on his resume, as well as 28 Gander Trucks races. He has been atop the pit box for three victories at KBM, two with Kyle Busch and one with Todd Gilliland. Ward’s drivers have compiled an average finish of 18.8 across four Truck Series starts at Phoenix, including a 14th-place finish with Gilliland last year.
- The No. 51 team is tied for the lead in the Truck Series with four wins, three with owner-driver Kyle Busch and one with Brandon Jones. The team also leads the series in fastest lap run (280) and ranks second in laps led (393).
- Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) has five victories at the Arizona track. KBM’s five victories at the Arizona track have come with four different drivers. Kyle Busch won in 2011, Brian Scott in 2012, Erik Jones went back-to-back in 2013-2014 and Daniel Suarez claimed the top spot in 2016. A KBM driver led the most laps in the Phoenix race every year from 2011 to 2018. Busch (2011, 107), Scott (2012, 43), Jones (2013, 84), Jones (2014, 114), Jones (2015, 106), William Byron (2016, 112), Christopher Bell (2017, 90) and Harrison Burton (2018, 46). The streak narrowly came to an end last year when Brandon Jones led 36 laps but was narrowly eclipsed by Ben Rhodes (47) and Stewart Friesen (44).
Chandler Smith, Driver Q&A:
It’s the final race of the year. How would you assess your season?
“It’s the final race of the year. It’s been a great year. It has been a big learning curve especially for me learning my team, learning Danny (Stockman, crew chief) and getting experience on 1.5-mile tracks. I’m definitely hoping we can get back together for next year, but we will see how it works out.”
Phoenix is a unique track. You had a top-five there in trucks last year and won an ARCA race earlier this year. Do you like the track? How crazy are the restarts after the start-finish line?
“I have one win at Phoenix in the ARCA division. I’m pretty sure I finished third there in trucks last year. I’m not quite sure. Phoenix is definitely unique. The restarts are fun. It’s really wide and then gets really narrow in Turn 1. The dogleg always dices things up. It’s a fun racetrack. It’s fun to race on. It’s definitely a dustbowl.”
Now that the season is over, what’s the one thing on the top of your to do list?
“My biggest thing that I want to do in the offseason is relax. I just want to kick back and take it easy because I don’t get to do that much.”
Chandler Smith Career Highlights:
- Across 15 career NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series starts has recorded 93 laps led, seven top-five and eight top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 12.9.
- 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, 22 top-five and 29 top-10 finishes en route to an average finish of 5.2 across 33 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 No. 51 JBL Tundra:
KBM-69: The No. 51 JBL team will unload a brand new Tundra, KBM-69, for Friday night’s race at Phoenix.
KBM Notes of Interest:
- KBM drivers have collected five wins, five poles, 914 laps led, 11 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 9.7 across 28 starts at Phoenix Raceway.
- The organization’s five victories at the Arizona track have come with four different drivers: Kyle Busch won in 2011, Brian Scott in 2012, Erik Jones went back-to-back in 2013-2014 and Daniel Suarez claimed the top spot in 2016.
- KBM holds the NGROTS records for most career wins (80) 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.