With lessons learned from a runner-up finish at Bristol in 2019 in just his third NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start, Chandler Smith muscled his way past reigning champion Shelden Creed on a restart with five laps remaining and then held off Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) teammate John Hunter Nemechek to collect his first career victory in his 34th career start in NASCAR’s third division. The Georgia native became the 17th different driver to collect their first Truck Series triumph for KBM.
The Safelite Tundra lined up for the restart on the inside of the front row seven points below the cutoff line for advancing to the Round of 8 of the playoffs, with the majority of his competitors inside the top 10, making it a must-win-situation. After racing side-by-side for over a lap with Creed, Creed got loose into Turn 3 opening the door for Smith. As Smith dove to the inside, both trucks washed up the track allowing Nemechek to slip past both momentarily. Of them. Nemechek got loose off Turn 4 allowing Smith to take back the lead. Nemechek tried to give Smith one more bump-and-run, but Smith was able to keep his Toyota settled and would go on to cross the stripe 0.422 seconds ahead of Grant Enfinger.
With the victory and the reset of points, Smith will enter next week’s race at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway fifth on the playoff grid, three points behind the cutoff line for advancing to the Championship 4.
Stage One Recap:
- Smith lined up seventh for the 200-lap event based on NASCAR’s matrix system with drivers and teams in the playoffs making up the top 12 positions.
- The 19-year-old driver communicated that the handling of his Safelite Tundra was “a tick twitchy,” but he maintained a position inside the top 10 for the first 40 laps of the race.
- When another competitor washed up the track into the Safelite Tundra, smoke began to bellow from the left-front tire and caused Smith to fall back to the 12th position when the third caution of the night occurred on lap 49.
- Before hitting pit road, the Georgia driver communicated to veteran crew chief Danny Stockman that the balance of his Toyota had improved throughout the stage, describing it as “perfect.”
- The over-the-wall crew administered a four-tire and fuel stop and cleared the left-front fender to prevent future tire rubs.
- Smith lined up 17th when the field went back green with one lap remaining in Stage One and worked his way to 15th in the final circuit.
Stage Two Recap:
- Having already made their pit stop at the end of Stage One, the Safelite team remained on track between stages. Smith lined up on the top of the sixth row when Stage Two went green on lap 66.
- After a quick caution the No. 18 Toyota elected to start on the top of row four for the ensuing restart on lap 79. Smith had an impressive restart, passing two trucks on the outside and on lap 82 had settled into the fourth position.
- With 10 laps remaining in Stage Two, the Toyota driver got stuck behind two lap cars and would lose a spot. The Safelite Tundra would be scored in the fifth position when Stage Two came to completion at lap 110.
Final Stage Recap:
- Smith communicated that his Tundra was “super snug and need to turn better on throttle,” before hitting pit road for four-tires, fuel, and a wedge adjustment between stages.
- The rookie of the year contender lined up on the top of the fifth row when the Final Stage went green on lap 121. When the eighth caution on the night occurred on Lap 155, the No. 18 Toyota was scored in the seventh position.
- Smith lined up on the top of the fourth row for the ensuing restart on lap 163. He was running fifth when the field was slowed for the ninth time for a one-truck spin on lap 172. As the field came to the choose lap, the Georgia native positioned his Tundra on the outside of the third row.
- When another caution occurred three laps later, he had made his way up to the third position. For the next restart the Toyota driver was able to line up on the inside of the front row next to Creed. Smith was running second with 10 laps remaining when a six-truck accident on the frontstretch brought the field to red-flag conditions.
- Smith once again would line up on the inside of the front row next to Creed when then field went back green with five laps remaining.
- After racing side-by-side for over a lap with Creed, Creed got loose into Turn 3 opening the door for Smith. As the Safelite Tundra dove to the inside of the No. 2 truck, both trucks washed up the track allowing Nemechek to slip past both momentarily.
- Nemechek got loose off Turn 4 allowing Smith to take back the lead. Nemechek tried to give Smith one more bump-and-run, but Smith was able to keep his Toyota settled and would go on to cross the stripe 0.422 seconds ahead of Grant Enfinger.
Chandler Smith, driver of the No. 18 Safelite Tundra for KBM
How do you feel getting your first career Truck Series victory?
“God is good, God is so damn good. I’ve really been tested here in the last year or two. Tested my faith and I’ve kept it. This is unbelievable. I can’t thank everyone behind me. Safelite, Toyota, KBM, Kyle Busch (team owner) – everybody, Jack Irving (TRD). This is incredible, I’m speechless right now.”
Were you starting to wonder if you would get a win in this series?
“I feel like truck racing is definitely the hardest out of all three series right now. In 2019, I felt like I was really, really good. Nothing’s changed about me, the competition has just gotten harder. Had to go to work and do a lot more. More studying and it finally paid off. God is just so good and I’m just so happy. This is unbelievable.”
What was going through your mind when you knew you had to win to transfer in the Playoffs?
“2019. That’s all I’ve been talking about all week is what I would do different in 2019 on that restart because of how damn hard these truck races are to win. It came down to it and I’ve been preparing myself all week for it. Just got a good launch. I can’t thank everybody enough that’s on this Safelite Toyota. This has been a heck of a journey and my faith has definitely been tested. Just keep on digging.”
How do you approach the next round of the Playoffs?
“I think everybody’s confidence is really high now for sure. I definitely think we’re going to be pretty good going into the next round.”
UNOH 200 Recap:
How Smith’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- John Hunter Nemechek, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished third.
- Drew Dollar, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished 34th.
Camping World Trucks Driver Championship Standings:
With the victory Smith advances to the Round of 8 of the Camping World Truck Series playoffs. With the points reset, the 19-year-old driver will enter next week’s race at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway fifth on the playoff grid, three points behind the cutoff line for advancing to the Championship 4.
Smith will be back behind the wheel of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series resumes action Friday, Sept. 24 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.