- Chandler Smith and the No. 18 JBL team head to Watkins Glen Saturday looking to solidify their spot in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs. Entering the regular season finale, Smith holds a 40-point advantage over Derek Kraus for the 10th and final spot on the playoff grid. Saturday’s race marks the first time that the Truck Series has raced at the 2.45-mile, seven-turn road course since 2000.
- When the Camping World Truck Series left Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, Smith sat 12th on the playoff grid, 35 points behind Johnny Sauter for the 10th position with six races remaining in the regular season. Over the last five races he has made a remarkable rally by tallying 171 total points, fifth-most in the series during that span. Smith’s average finish over the last five races is 10.2, compared to an average finish of 20.4 during the first nine races of the season.
- Smith has stayed busy while the Truck Series has been on hiatus for the second half of July. On July 17, he was married to his high school sweetheart Kenzie Grams in a ceremony on the beach in Oak Island, N.C. The following weekend he got behind the wheel of a Super Late Model for the Twin 100s at 5 Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla. On Friday July 23, he led 94 of the 100 laps, but surrendered the lead to late model ace Bubba Pollard with three laps remaining and ended up the bridesmaid. Saturday, July 24, Smith took the lead on lap 30 and remained out front for the remainder of the 100-lap event to earn his first career Blizzard Series victory. Finally, on Saturday July 31, he finished second to Matt Craig in the CARS Super Late Model Tour Throwback 276 at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
- Across 14 total starts this season, Smith has three top-five and five top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 16.8. He produced a season-best result of second in the series’ last stop at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway. He led a race-high 71 laps at the famed dirt track and despite being on worn out tires was able to hold serve on restarts in the first to overtime periods, before surrendering the lead to eventual race winner Austin Hill on the restart in the third overtime.
- Smith ranks second to his KBM teammate John Hunter Nemechek among full-time Truck Series drivers with 165 laps led this season. The Georgia native has accumulated 119 of those laps led over the last three races. He and Kraus were tied for the most laps led (48) at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway and then Smith led a race-high 71 laps at Knoxville.
- In his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series road course event, the talented teenager recorded the third best average running position (8.315) of all the drivers in the field at the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway Road Course in February and was in line for a top-10 finish before getting spun from behind while running seventh in the second of what would be three attempts at NASCAR overtime. After pitting for four fresh tires before the start of the final overtime period, Smith would drive from 27th to 12th before the race ended under caution.
- The Toyota Racing Development driver has 11 top-five, and 14 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 14.4 across 30 career Camping World Truck Series starts. His runner-up finish at Knoxville Raceway equaled the career-best finish he achieved at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in 2019.
No. 18 Tundra – Watkins Glen International Speedway Advance
Chandler Smith, Driver Q&A:
You have a 40-point advantage heading into Saturday for the final playoff spot. Will you be on offense or defense?
“I think the biggest thing for us going to Watkins Glen is just not beating ourselves. We’ve got to finish the race, make sure we are 25th or better, have a solid day on my end and the pit crews end and hope everything goes our way.”
You ran inside the top 10 for the majority of the Daytona Road Course race. How have you adapted so quickly to road course racing with very little experience?
“I don’t know to be honest with you, I don’t have a road race background every. My first road course race was in an ARCA car down at Daytona Road Course and the second time I ever hopped in one was Daytona Road Course in a truck. It definitely helps having all the data and all the tools that we have offered for myself, and the team and it definitely helps having a lot of good people surrounding me as well.”
What have you been doing since the Truck Series last raced at Knoxville?
“Actually, I haven’t had any off weekends. Right after Knoxville I went and got married. Right after that, we went down to Pensacola, Fla. to race some Super Late Model races, Friday night finished second and Saturday night won it, and then I raced at Hickory this past weekend and finished second again. Hopefully we’ll combine all these seconds and turn it into a first at Watkins Glen.”
Chandler Smith Career Highlights:
- Across 30 career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts has recorded 258 laps led, 11 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 14.4.
- 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-72: The No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass team will unload a brand new Tundra, KBM-72, for Saturday’s race at Watkins Glen.
KBM Notes of Interest:
- Erik Jones collected KBM’s lone road-course victory in 2015 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
- KBM holds the Camping World Truck Series records for most career wins (88) and most wins in a single season (14 in 2014). With his victory at the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track, Truex Jr. became the 16th 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 21 career victories.