- Chandler Smith and the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass team head to Talladega Superspeedway Saturday for the second race in the Round of 8 of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs. Smith had a fast Tundra in the early portion of the opening race of the round at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway, finishing third in the opening stage and 10th in Stage Two before being relegated to a 35th-place finish after getting caught up in an accident in the Final Stage. The Georgia native enters this weekend’s race 24 points below the cutoff line for advancing to the Championship 4. After Saturday’s 94-lap event, the Round of 8 concludes Oct. 30 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
- The talented teenager has proven to be a quick learner when it comes to restrictor-plate racing. He made his first superspeedway start at Talladega last October after turning 18 in June. He maneuvered his way from just outside the top 10 with 20 laps remaining up to fourth for a restart with two laps remaining. Smith was tucked in behind former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne in the middle lane with his Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) 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 mid-pack 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. In his second superspeedway start earlier this year, he led a race-high 22 laps and finished ninth at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
- The 19-year-old collected his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory Sept. 16 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. 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. The Safelite driver fended off playoff elimination with the hard-fought victory.
- 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 who are competing for a driver’s championship for the first time. The other eight contenders have all competed for the Truck Series championship at least one time in previous seasons. Overall, across 19 starts in 2021, Smith has recorded one win, four top-five and seven top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 18.2.
- The Toyota Racing Development driver has one win, 12 top-five, and 16 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 15.5 across 35 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. 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. Stockman’s drivers have finished inside the top 10 in all three of his races at Talladega with Smith’s third-place finish last season his best result.
- 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 Bristol and for 16 races total this season. Smith General Contracting and Fortune-Johnson, a premier building contractor for multifamily projects in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, will be associate partners on the bedtop of the No. 18 Toyota for Saturday’s 94-lap event.
Chandler Smith, Driver Q&A:
You had a strong run at Talladega last year. Does that give you confidence as you head back there this week?
“I’m kind of hesitant to answer these types of questions on restrictor-plate tracks because a lot of it has to do with luck, timing and being at the right place at the right time. Daytona we were really good, led the most laps and at the very end we got caught up and had a flat right-rear tire that ended our day. Talladega last year, we finished I think third, but we were going to race back to the line and have the potential to have a photo finish. Overall, I’m comfortable on these tracks and I’m looking forward to it.”
What do you think it takes to be a good superspeedway racer?
“I don’t know, I’m still brand new to it. I think patience and looking out to see different moves and what you can do to advance your row or advance your position and not get in a bad situation. Also protecting what you already have, which is a lot to say and a lot to do, but I feel like that’s what it takes to be a good superspeedway racer and those are the things I’ve been following recently every time I’ve been on a superspeedway. It has seemed to work out for me.”
You climbed out of a points deficit in the opening round. Does that give you confidence that you can repeat it in the Round of 8?
“(Las) Vegas stung for sure because I thought our Safelite AutoGlass Tundra was probably the best truck out there at the start of Stage Three. I thought we were going to go ahead and advance ourselves into the next round, but circumstances didn’t end that way, so we are going to go to Talladega and Martinsville and try to repeat what we did at Bristol and bring home another win.”
Chandler Smith Career Highlights:
- Across 35 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 15.5.
- 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-64: The No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass team will unload KBM-64 for Saturday’s race at Talladega. Smith most recently piloted this Tundra at Daytona in February where he led a race-high 22 laps and finished ninth. The Georgia native also piloted this same chassis to a third-place finish at Talladega last October.
KBM-064 Performance Profile:
|Starts||Wins||Average Start||Average Finish||Laps Led|
KBM Notes of Interest:
- KBM drivers have collected two wins, two poles, 68 laps led, nine top-five and 17 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 10.6 across 28 starts at Talladega.
- Raphael Lessard collected the first victory of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career last year at the 2.66-mile tri-oval. Owner-driver Kyle Busch was victorious in the 2010 event when he finished 0.002 seconds ahead of Aric Almirola in the closest finish in Truck Series history since electronic scoring was instituted.
- 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.