Date: Sept. 6, 2020
Event: South Carolina Education Lottery 200 (Race 15 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series
Location: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway (1.336-mile oval)
Format: Three Stages; 45 laps/55 laps/62 laps
Start/Finish: 14th/23rd (Running, completed 151 of 152 laps)
Winner: Ben Rhodes of ThorSport Racing (Ford)
Chandler Smith was having a text-book day in his first start at Darlington, racing the racetrack and moving forward as the race went along, until a loose wheel under green-flag conditions left him with another disappointing finish. Smith, making just his ninth career NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series start, had maneuvered his way up to the sixth position with just under 20 laps remaining when he reported a bad vibration. As the condition worsened, he was forced to pit road and would end the day a lap down in the 23rd position.
Stage One Recap:
- Smith started from the 14th position after a performance matrix based off his finishing position from the previous race, ranking in owner points standings and the ranking of the fastest lap he turned from the previous race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.
- The Toyota Racing Development driver had fallen back to the 17th position when the competition caution flew on Lap 20.
- Smith reported that he had a loose-handling JBL/Smith General Contracting Tundra before hitting pit road. After getting four fresh tires and fuel, Smith had trouble getting out of his pit stall and would be the 20th truck exiting pit road.
- The No. 51 Toyota would cross the stripe in the 17th position on Lap 45 to end Stage One.
Stage Two Recap:
- Smith communicated to veteran crew chief Danny Stockman that his Tundra “loses the nose and won’t turn,” before hitting pit road for four fresh tires, a full load of fuel and a trackbar adjustment. A speedy stop allowed the No. 51 Tundra to exit pit road 15th.
- The 18-year-old driver would remain in the 15th spot when Stage Two came to completion on Lap 90.
Final Stage Recap:
- Stockman summoned his young driver to pit road for a four-tire and fuel stop between stages. Another fast stop by the over-the-wall crew allowed the No. 51 Tundra to be the 12th truck to exit pit road.
- The Final Stage went green on Lap 97 and Smith chose the outside line in the seventh row for the restart. He was able to gain two positions before the field was slowed for the fifth time on lap 104.
- Smith reported that he was happier with his JBL/Smith General Contracting Tundra under caution.
- With 40 laps remaining, the talented teenager began to make his way towards the front of the field. He joined the top 10 on Lap 112 and just before the sixth caution of the day flew on Lap 124 had moved into the eighth position.
- After hitting pit road for four fresh tires and enough fuel to comfortably make it to the end of the race, Smith restarted from the inside lane on the third row on Lap 129. He was able to make his way in line in the sixth position one lap later but reported that he felt a bad vibration.
- The No. 51 Toyota fell back a few positions as Smith tried to diagnose the issue over the radio with Stockman. After a few more laps, the condition worsened, and the young driver would make his way down pit road. As he was making his way towards his pit stall, the television broadcast was able to show that he had a loose right-front wheel.
- The JBL/Smith General Contracting Tundra would return to the track a lap down in the 25th position. When several leaders pitted during the next caution on Lap 146, the No. 51 was trapped a lap down. Smith would end the day with a 23rd-place finish.
Chandler Smith, driver of the No. 51 JBL/Smith General Contracting Tundra for KBM:
How did your first start at Darlington go?
“Had a solid run going for my first time at The Lady in Black. We were up to sixth with 20 to go and then had a loose right-front wheel and had to pit under green. The team is bringing me really good Tundras and we have some good momentum going, we just need things to go our way for once.”
South Carolina Education Lottery 200 Recap:
- Ben Rhodes picked up his third career Gander Trucks victory finishing 0.785 seconds ahead of runner-up finisher Derek Kraus. Austin Hill, Grant Enfinger, and Christian Eckes rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured seven cautions for a total of 35 laps. There were 11 lead changes among five drivers.
How Smith’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Christian Eckes, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished fifth
- Raphael Lessard, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished sixth
Gander Trucks Owner’s Championship Standings:
The No. 51 team ranks eighth in the Gander Trucks owner’s championship standings. With one race remaining in the regular season, the No. 51 team sits 141 tallies behind the No. 16 team and is ninth on the 10-driver playoff grid, 16 points above the cutoff line for making the owner’s playoffs.
Smith will be back behind the wheel of the No. 51 JBL/Smith General Contracting Tundra when the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series resumes action on Thursday, Sept. 10 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. Live coverage of the ToyotaCare 250 will be on FS1, Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM at 8 p.m. ET.