- Chandler Smith and the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass team head to Martinsville Speedway for the final race in the Round of 8 of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs. Smith enters Saturday’s elimination race sixth on the playoff grid but finds himself 34 points below the cutoff line for advancing to the Championship 4 and basically in a must-win situation. Smith was put in a hole by being involved in accidents in each of the first two races in the round which relegated him to finishes of 35th and 19th, respectively at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
- Despite having 36 career Truck Series starts under his belt since making his debut in June of 2019, the 19-year-old driver will be making his first career start in any series at “The Paperclip.”
- Being in a must-win situation is nothing new to Smith, he 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.
- 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. Smith and fellow Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Carson Hocevar are the only two drivers in the playoffs who are competing for a driver’s championship for the first time. Overall, across 20 starts in 2021, Smith has recorded one win, four top-five and seven top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 18.3.
- The Toyota Racing Development driver has one win, 12 top-five, and 16 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 15.6 across 36 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 Martinsville, Stockman’s drivers have collected one top-five and two top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 10.5.
- 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 Martinsville and for 16 races total 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 Saturday’s 200-lap event.
- As part of the second annual Honor a Cancer Hero Campaign which raised over $100,000 for the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation and The NASCAR Foundation, two organizations recognized as champions for the health and well-being of others, Smith’s No. 18 Toyota will carry the name of Rene Neff over the driver door on Saturday. Neff is a Stage 4 breast cancer survivor who has been an advocate for cancer research and volunteering; as well as support system for those going through the same.
Chandler Smith, Driver Q&A:
With being 34 points below the cutoff line for advancing to the Championship 4, how will you approach Saturday’s race?
“We just have to go out there and win. Every weekend our goal is to go out there and win races, so nothing has really changed. When it comes push to shove, we are definitely going to give the shove probably a little more than give and take. It’s no different than Bristol, we had to win at Bristol. We had a really good Safelite AuotoGlass Toyota Tundra at Bristol and I expect the same at Martinsville?”
How are you preparing for your first start in any series at Martinsville?
“I’ve had a lot of sim time for sure and I’ve talked to a few guys that have been there – talked to Kyle a little bit. I’ve watched a lot of film, to say the least. At the end of the day, it’s a short track and that’s kind of my background and I don’t think there’s going to be much different from short track to short track. At the end of the day, they are all circle tracks and it’s The Paperclip, I’m looking forward to it for sure.”
What’s it going to take to win on Saturday?
“I think its all about being there at the end. For us to even be able to win the race, we have to make sure we survive all the way to the end, and I believe in my team, and I believe in everybody behind me that we’ll have that Safelite AutoGlass Tundra out front by the end of the race.”
Chandler Smith Career Highlights:
- Across 36 career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts has recorded one win (Bristol Motor Speedway, 9/16/2021), 267 laps led, 12 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 15.6.
- 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-25: The No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass team will unload KBM-25 for Saturday’s race at Martinsville Speedway. Smith led a race-high 71 laps and finished second with this Tundra in its most recent outing in July at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway. KBM-25 has three career wins, Todd Gilliland (Oct. 2019) and Noah Gragson (Oct. 2017) both were victorious with it at Martinsville and Christopher Bell went to victory lane with it at World Wide Technology Raceway (2016).
KBM-25 Performance Profile:
|Starts||Wins||Average Start||Average Finish||Laps Led|
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.