Date: Sept. 25, 2020
Event: World of Westgate 200 (Race 18 of 23, Race 2 of 3 in the Round of 10)
Series: NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series
Location: Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile tri-oval)
Format: Three Stages; 30 laps/30 laps/74 laps
Start/Finish: 5th/5th (Running, completed 134 of 134 laps)
Winner: Austin Hill of Hattori Racing Enterprises (Toyota)
Making just his second career start on a mile-and-a-half track, Chandler Smith methodically maneuvered his way through the top 10 in the Final Stage of Friday night’s World of Westgate 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to pick up his second consecutive top-five finish in Truck Series action, and the first of his career on a 1.5-mile track.
Stage One Recap:
- Smith started from the fifth position after a performance matrix based off his finishing position from the previous race, ranking in owner points standings and the ranking of the fastest lap he turned from the previous race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
- The Georgia native fell back a few positions in the early stages of the race. After the competition caution on Lap 10, Smith elected to start on the outside of the fourth row.
- He was running seventh on Lap 16 when he got aero loose underneath another truck and lost the rear-end of his JBL Tundra. He went sliding up the track nearly making contact with another competitor but was able to remarkably gain control of his Toyota and continue on while only losing two positions.
- The No. 51 team would end Stage one in the 10th position.
Stage Two Recap:
- Smith communicated to veteran crew chief Danny Stockman that his JBL Tundra was “really snappy” before hitting pit road for four fresh tires and fuel with a major chassis adjustment before the start of Stage Two.
- The Toyota Racing Development driver lined up on the inside of row six when Stage Two went green on Lap 37. He would settle into the 13th position for most of the stage but lost one position in the closing laps and would finish 14th.
Final Stage Recap:
- The 18-year-old driver reported being loose on entry before hitting pit road for a four-tire and fuel stop with more adjustments before the start of the Final Stage. He chose to line up on the inside of row six when the Final Stage went green on Lap 67.
- He communicated that the JBL Toyota was “skating” early in the Final Stage and fell back to the 15th position on Lap 75. As he began to log more laps, the truck began to come to him and before the fourth caution slowed the field on Lap 84 was back up to the 12th spot.
- Stockman summoned his young driver down pit road for four fresh tires, fuel, and another major chassis adjustment. Once again, he lined up on the inside of the sixth row for the ensuing restart.
- A bold move to the inside once the field went back green allowed him to move up to the eighth position before the fifth and final caution slowed the field for the final time on Lap 90.
- On the ensuing restart, Smith lined up on the inside of the third row. He fell back to the seventh position on Lap 97, but then maneuvered his way back inside the top five on Lap 100.
- As a long green-flag run ensued, he began posting his fastest lap times of the night and on lap 106 made his way up to the fourth position. He would lose one spot with 10 laps remaining and bring his Toyota home in the fifth position for the second consecutive race.
Chandler Smith, driver of the No. 51 JBL Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
Back-to-back top-five finishes. How was your first trip to Las Vegas?
“It was my second ever mile-and-a-half, so the biggest thing for me was starting fresh with this mile-and-a-half. Kentucky, I kind of had written off in my brain, because we were just wrecking loose the whole race. I never felt like I even got to drive the truck. It was just a fresh page. I relied on Christian (Eckes) a good bit as far as how the track was going to be as far as throttle tracing, stuff of that nature. We fired off really, really free, but we were okay as far as speed goes. Deceleration, as far as getting down to the bottom, I was way too free. We started snugging it up and we kept going backwards and backwards. We got the deceleration issue fixed, and then the front tires weren’t grabbing good enough when it got to max load, so I could never really get back to the throttle good enough. Then we got that working on the last pit stop and we went to the front, where we should be. Overall, it was a good solid night for our JBL Toyota Tundra, but if we are going to race for points, we need to do a little bit better earlier on.”
Next up, your first superspeedway start. What are your thoughts heading into Talladega?
“I honestly don’t know what to tell you. I’m sketched out. I’ve never raced on a superspeedway, except for Michigan. I’ve talked to Danny (Stockman, crew chief) and he said our strategy is going to be riding in the back all day and wait for the big one and try to win the thing. I’m sure he’s probably going to think of something else. He really wants to win the owner’s points. We will see. I’m excited for it. I’m pumped. It will be my first restrictor plate race, but it’s going to be a different animal for sure.”
World of Westgate 200 Recap:
- Austin Hill scored his sixth-career NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series victory beating Sheldon Creed by 0.546 seconds. Tanner Gray, Stewart Friesen, and Smith rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured five cautions for a total of 25 laps. There were four lead changes among four drivers.
How Smith’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Christian Eckes, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished eighth
- Raphael Lessard, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished 20th
Gander Trucks Owner’s Championship Standings:
The No. 51 team ranks ninth in the Gander Trucks owner’s championship standings after two races of the Round of 10. The team is currently two points behind KBM’s No. 18 team for the final spot in the Round of 8. The bottom two teams will be eliminated after the next weekend’s event at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
Smith will be back behind the wheel of the No. 51 iBUYPOWER Tundra when the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series resumes action on Saturday, Oct. 3 at Talladega (Ala.) Speedway. Live coverage of the Talladega 250 will be on FS1, Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM at 1 p.m. ET.