After finishing second in Stage One and third in Stage Two, Chandler Smith began managing his race and setting himself up to be in a position to win late in the season opening NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Daytona International Speedway. After purposefully falling to the tail of the field looking to avoid a melee early in the Final Stage, the Safelite driver began his march forward with 20 laps remaining and worked his way back into the top 10.
With four laps remaining, the Safelite Tundra TRD Pro made a move to the outside lane looking to push another truck forward, but the truck in front of him got loose and nipped the wall slowing both of their momentum. Smith fell to 17th but coming back to the white flag he had rallied back to around the 10th position when “the big one” happened in front of him and he had nowhere to go.
After a reg-flag period, the Safelite over-the-wall crew made repairs to Smith’s truck, but the team fell one lap down. The No. 18 team took the green for NASCAR overtime in the 24th position and gained three spots over the final two laps to bring home a 21st-place finish.
Stage One Recap:
- Smith lined up on the inside of the second row to start the 100-lap event after positing the third fastest lap in Friday afternoon’s two-round, single-truck qualifying session.
- The 19-year-old driver communicated that the handling of his Safelite Tundra was “very unstable” in the opening laps of the event, but he was able to remain running inside the top five.
- The Toyota Racing Development product was running third on the final lap of the opening stanza when his teammate, John Hunter Nemechek, made a move to the outside of the leader. Smith followed suit and they were able to work their way around the leader and bring KBM home a one-two finish in Stage One.
Stage Two Recap:
- Between stages Smith communicated that the Safelite Tundra TRD Pro was extremely loose before hitting pit road. Veteran crew chief Danny Stockman ordered up a fuel-only stop with a large trackbar adjustment in an effort to improve the handling for his young driver.
- When Stage Two went green on lap 26, Smith was scored in the fourth position.
- He was running seventh with five laps remaining when once again he followed a move made by Nemechek and with one lap remaining they were line up first and second coming to take the green-white-checkered. A strong run from the outside propelled another driver past Smith into second coming to the stripe and Smith would finish the stanza in the third position.
Final Stage Recap:
- Smith communicated that the initial adjustment had helped the handling of his No. 18 Toyota, but he still needed to be snugged up more if he was going to be able to make more evasive maneuvers and win the race. Stockman summoned Smith to pit road for a four-tire and fuel stop with another chassis adjustment.
- The Georgia native lined up 11th when the Final Stage went green on lap 46. As the field got more anxious, Smith and spotter Chris Lambert decided that if they couldn’t run inside the top five that the safest move was to retreat to the tail of the field in an effort to miss the big wreck.
- Smith was scored 17th when the third caution of the event occurred on lap 65 for a one-truck incident. Stockman at first elected to make a fuel-only stop, but before the field went back green decided to pit again for four fresh tires and to top off with fuel since they were already near the tail of the field. He told Smith “having four fresh tires is going to be huge.”
- With 30 laps remaining Smith was told “it’s time to start moving forward some.” He had made his way back inside the top 10 when a one-truck incident slowed the field with 20 laps remaining.
- After the fifth caution of the event occurred on lap 86, the Safelite Tundra TRD Pro was scored in the seventh position. Shortly after going back green, Smith made a move to the outside lane looking to push another truck forward, but the truck in front of him got loose and nipped the wall slowing both of their momentum.
- Smith fell to 17th but coming back to the white flag he had rallied back to around the 10th position when “the big one” happened in front of him and he had nowhere to go.
- After a reg-flag period, the Safelite over-the-wall crew made repairs to Smith’s truck, but the team fell one lap down. The No. 18 team took the green for NASCAR overtime in the 24th position and gained three spots over the final two laps to bring home a 21st-place finish.
Chandler Smith, driver of the No. 18 Safelite Tundra TRD Pro for KBM
Talk about your race
“Overall, we had a really solid points day. We were bigger picture racing all day and coming out I think we’ll be somewhere top three in points, so that is still kind of like a win for us. Overall, good momentum going into the rest of the season for this Safelite group. Really excited to be back onboard with KBM and Safelite and looking forward to seeing what we can do at Las Vegas.”
NextEra Energy 250 Recap:
- Zane Smith picked up the fourth win of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career. Ben Rhodes, Christian Eckes, Tanner Gray, and Parker Kligerman rounded out the top-five finishers.
- There were seven cautions for 27 laps. There were 18 lead changes among 10 drivers.
How Smith’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- John Hunter Nemechek, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished 24th.
- Corey Heim, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished 32nd.
Camping World Trucks Driver Championship Standings:
After one event Smith sits sixth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver point standings, 13 tallies behind points leader Zane Smith.
Smith will be back behind the wheel of the No. 18 Safelite Tundra when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series resumes action Friday March 4 at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway. Live coverage of the Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 will be on FS1, Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM at 9 p.m. ET.