Date: Feb. 12, 2021
Event: NextEra Energy 250 (Race 1 of 22)
Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Location: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (2.5-mile tri-oval)
Format: Three Stages; 20 laps/20 laps/61 laps
Start/Finish: 6th/9th (Running, completed 101 of 101 laps)
Winner: Ben Rhodes of ThorSport Racing (Toyota)
Chandler Smith had an impressive outing Friday night in his first start in any series at Daytona International Speedway as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series kicked off the 2021 season. Smith started from the sixth position, finished inside the top 10 in all three stages and had the Safelite Tundra out front for a race-high 22 laps.
Smith was battling for the lead in the closing laps when he got loose, slid down the track and barely clipped the apron. As he corrected his path, he shot up the track and made contact with Grant Enfinger on the outside lane. The contact caused an issue with a tire and moments later the No. 18 Toyota ended up spinning out. Behind Smith, a melee ensued ending the night for several competitors and setting up an overtime finish.
After a trip down pit road to get four fresh tires and clear the fenders on his Safelite Tundra, Smith would start NASCAR overtime in the 20th position. The Georgia native was scored 19th when the field took the white flag, but as another incident occurred as the field exited Turn 4 causing several trucks to wash up the racetrack, he drove to the inside to avoid them and ended his night with a ninth-place result.
Stage One Recap:
- Smith started from the sixth position after posting a lap of 50.099 seconds at 179.644 mph in Friday afternoon’s qualifying session.
- The Toyota Racing prodigy communicated to interim crew chief Paul Andrews that his Safelite Tundra was “a little free on entry,” after crossing the stripe in the seventh position to complete Stage One.
Stage Two Recap:
- Andrews ordered up a fuel-only stop between stages putting the Safelite Tundra in the seventh position when Stage Two went green on Lap 26.
- Smith described his Toyota as “free on entry” throughout the second stanza but was able to produce a sixth-place result.
Final Stage Recap:
- Andrews ordered up a four-tire and fuel stop between stages, but after the over-the-wall had an issue getting the right front tire removed and getting the truck full of fuel, he summoned Smith back to pit road to top off with fuel before the Final Stage went green on Lap 28.
- The Safelite Tundra lined up 28th on Lap 46, but by the time the fifth caution of the race occurred on Lap 53 had advanced back inside the top 15.
- During each of the next two caution periods, Smith hit pit road for a full load of fuel. The No. 18 machine lined up second on Lap 64 and quickly gained the race lead before a five-truck incident slowed the field for the seventh time one lap later.
- The Georgia native maintained the lead on the ensuing restart and under the tutelage of veteran spotter Chris Lambert would remain out front until a six-truck melee slowed the field with just over 25 laps remaining.
- Battling for the lead in the closing laps, racing side-by-side with reigning Daytona winner Grant Enfinger, Smith would clip the apron causing his Safelite Tundra to shoot up the track into the fender of his fellow Toyota competitor. Shortly after a puff of smoke came out from his Goodyear tire and the Safelite Tundra went spinning.
- After a trip down pit road under caution to get four fresh tires, Smith lined up at the back of the field in the 20th position for pitting too early. The talented teenager was able to rally over the final two laps of the event to bring home a ninth-place finish.
Chandler Smith, driver of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra for KBM
How would you rate your debut at Daytona?
“Yes and no. We came down here with a championship-caliber team, a championship-caliber truck capable of winning and we didn’t win the race and we were in position to. It was a rookie mistake by me. I should have known better with him sitting on my door like that, even on a speedway like this with how flat it gets off (turn) four, sooner or later that was what was going to happen, and it was going to lead to even worse disaster. We paid the price for it, but my Safelite Toyota guys got me back out there and we got rolling and we still salvaged a decent points day.”
NextEra Energy 250 Recap:
- Ben Rhodes picked up his fourth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory finishing .036 seconds ahead of Jordan Anderson in NASCAR overtime. Cory Roper finished third, while Ryan Truex and Carson Hocevar rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured 10 cautions for a total of 43 laps. There were 31 lead changes among 12 drivers, including Smith who led three times for a race-high 22 laps.
How Smith’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- John Hunter Nemechek, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished seventh
- Drew Dollar, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished 10th
Camping World Trucks Driver Championship Standings:
Smith and the No. 18 Safelite team leave the first event of the Camping World Truck Series fourth in the championship standings, 14 points behind Rhodes.
Smith will be behind the wheel of the No. 18 JBL Tundra when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series resumes action on Friday Feb. 19 at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course. Live coverage of the BrakeBest Brake Pads 159 At DAYTONA will be on FS1, Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM at 7:30 p.m. ET.