Date: Oct. 3, 2020
Event: Talladega 250 (Race 19 of 23, Race 3 of 3 in the Round of 10)
Series: NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series
Location: Talladega (Ala.) Speedway (2.66-mile tri-oval)
Format: Three Stages; 20 laps/20 laps/54 laps
Start/Finish: 5th/3rd (Running, completed 94 of 94 laps)
Winner: Raphael Lessard of Kyle Busch Motorsports (Toyota)
Making the first superspeedway start of his career, 18-year-old Chandler Smith brought the iBUYPOWER Tundra home in the third position at Talladega Saturday. Smith’s third consecutive top-five finish in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series catapulted the team from ninth to fourth in the owner’s point standings and earned the No. 51 team a spot in the Round of 8.
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 Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway.
- The iBUYPOWER Tundra was running in the sixth spot when the first big accident of the day occurred in front of him on Lap 12.
- The Toyota Racing Development product took the ensuing restart from the second position on Lap 18 but got shuffled back to the sixth spot when Stage One came to completion on Lap 20.
- With the sixth-place result in the opening stanza, the No. 51 team earned five stage points.
Stage Two Recap:
- Smith hit pit road for a fuel-only stop between stages and would line up fifth when Stage Two went green on Lap 25.
- He advanced two spots, up to third, on the next lap and remained there when a caution with two laps remaining brought the stage to completion under yellow. The No. 51 team earned eight valuable stage points with the third-place result.
Final Stage Recap:
- With 13 points scored over the first two stages, the No. 51 team switched from offense to defense for the start of the Final Stage. Along with their KBM teammates, the No. 51 team pitted the second lap after pit road opened to avoid experiencing any chaos on pit road. They also topped off with fuel with one lap before the field went green in the Final Stage.
- The iBUYPOWER Tundra lined up 24th for the restart on Lap 44.
- Smith was scored in the 14th position when teams had made it to the pit window and began making their final scheduled stops on Lap 60. On Lap 66, veteran crew chief Danny Stockman summoned his young driver to pit road for a fuel-only stop.
- Exiting pit road, he made slight contact with Grant Enfinger, but the damage to the right front fender was minimal.
- The Georgia native was scored 13th on Lap 72, when he switched back to offense and began to maneuver his Toyota forward. With 10 laps to go he had made it up to the sixth position.
- Smith had gained two more positions when a debris caution occurred with six laps remaining.
- The No. 51 Toyota lined up fourth when the field took the green flag with two laps remaining.
- The talented teenager was tucked in behind Trevor Bayne in the middle lane with his teammate Raphael Lessard and Ben Rhodes nose to tail next to them on the inside lane as the field went down the backstretch on the final lap.
- A multi-truck wreck broke out around the 10th position and the caution flew as the field was going through Turn 4. After NASCAR reviewed the cameras, Smith was credited with a third-place result.
- Smith’s third consecutive top-five finish helped catapult the No. 51 team from the ninth position prior to the start of the final race of the Round of 10 all the way up to the fourth position.
Chandler Smith, driver of the No. 51 iBUYPOWER Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
How was your race today?
“It was a blast. This was my first ever superspeedway race or ever being on a superspeedway other than being at Michigan. I made two laps at Daytona in an ARCA car and other than that, I’ve never even done this, especially in a draft. It was a lot of fun. Hats off to all my iBuyPower Toyota guys from KBM. They gave me a heck of an iBuyPower Toyota Tundra today. Our biggest thing was that we wanted to advance into the Playoffs for the owner’s points and we did exactly that. I felt like we also had a truck to win the race there at the very end. We were really, really good. I’m happy for Raphaël (Lessard), he got his first ever win today so hats off to that whole 4 team. It was blast.”
Can you talk us through your run out there with very intense racing?
“Overall, it was a blast. This is my first superspeedway race. I’ve only been on Daytona for two laps in an ARCA car without any draft or anything. This was a lot different just jumping in, starting p5, was a lot of fun. Our biggest thing today was to get our truck out front and just get stage points for the first two stages so we could be locked in for the owner’s points, and we did just that and we got a good finish. Today was a great day. This 51 team, we haven’t been able to show it here lately, but we are really strong. We just have to put things together. Today, we put everything together pretty good, and if the caution wouldn’t have came out, I feel like we would have been in the spot to win the race. Hats off to the 4 (Raphaël Lessard) crew. They are going to be celebrating hard from that, but overall, my iBuyPower/JBL No. 51 Toyota Tundra team did very good. I’m really proud of those guys. We put everything together and we executed on pit road. That’s what we have to do every weekend.”
Talladega 250 Recap:
- Smith’s KBM teammate Raphael Lessard picked up his first career NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series victory after the race was decided by caution on the final lap. Trevor Bayne finished second while Smith, Ben Rhodes and Codie Rohrbaugh rounded out the top-five finishers.
How Smith’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Raphael Lessard, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished first
- Christian Eckes, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished 18th
Gander Trucks Owner’s Championship Standings:
The No. 51 team finished the Round of 10 in the fourth position in the Gander RV & Outdoors Series playoffs and will advance to the Round of 8, which begins in two weeks at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
Smith will be back behind the wheel of the No. 51 JBL Tundra when the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series resumes action on Saturday Oct. 17 at in Kansas Speedway. Live coverage of the Clean Harbors 200 will be on FOX, Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM at 4 p.m. ET.