Friday, Oct 07

Chandler Smith Punches Ticket to Round of 8 with Dominant Richmond Win

Chandler Smith Punches Ticket to Round of 8 with Dominant Richmond Win NK Photography Photo
After finishing third in the opening stage of Saturday night’s Worldwide Express 250, the No. 18 over-the-wall crew executed a lightning fast four-tire and fuel stop that put Chandler Smith at the front of the field for the Stage 2 and the Charge Me driver never looked back. Smith, who was racing for the first time as a father, would lead 176 of the final 177 and cross the finish line 2.790 seconds ahead of his Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) teammate John Hunter Nemechek.
The win was Smith’s fifth across 56 career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts and his third in 2022. With the victory, Smith automatically advances to the Round of 8 of the Truck Series playoffs.
Stage One Recap
·        Smith started the 250-lap race from the second position after posting a lap of 22.598 seconds at 119.480 mph in Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session.
·        The 20-year-old driver fell back to third in the opening laps as he communicated to veteran crew chief Danny Stockman that his Charge Me Tundra was “laterally too free and tight rolling the center.”
·        On lap 12 he would work his way around his KBM teammate John Hunter Nemechek but 50 laps later Nemechek took back the spot as Smith had trouble navigating lap traffic.
·        The opening stanza would go start to finish under green flag conditions with the No. 18 Toyota crossing the stripe in the third position.
Stage Two Recap:
·        Before hitting pit road, Smith communicated to Stockman that his Tundra TRD Pro “lacks front grip rolling.”
·        A speedy stop by the over-the-wall crew allowed Smith to exit pit road with the lead. With his teammate Nemechek second in the running order, Smith chose the outside lane when Stage Two went green on lap 80.
·        Smith cleared Nemechek before they entered Turn 1 and began to set sail on the field. By lap 110 he had opened up a lead of nearly two seconds and when Stage Two came to a close on lap 140 he had distanced Nemechek by over four seconds.
·        With his third stage win of the season, Smith earned a playoff point that will carryover to the Round of 8.
Final Stage Recap:
·        Before hitting pit road, Smith communicated to Stockman “we weren’t bad, clean air is king.”
·        Another fast stop by the over-the-wall crew allowed the No. 18 team to maintain the lead for the start of the final stage. Once the green flag waved, Smith picked up right where he left off and began to distance himself from the field.
·        On lap 180 he held a two-second lead but had lost the majority of it when he was trying to lap Layne Riggs and Riggs got sideways in front of him. To avoid a major incident, Smith had to slam on the brakes, which allowed Nemechek to close to his back bumper.
·        After getting settled back in, Smith started to pull away from his teammate again and stretched his lead to nearly a second again before he approached more lap traffic. He narrowly avoided the third caution of the night. As he was making his way to the inside of Carson Hocevar and Nick Leitz, Hocevar made contact with Leitz and sent him into the outside wall bringing out the yellow.
·        Under caution, Smith communicated, “my balance went back to how it was the first run, give me what I had in Stage 2.”
·        The over-the-wall crew continued their stellar night, allowing Smith to maintain the lead again after the four-tire and fuel stop with an air pressure adjustment.
·        Nemechek maintained the runner-up position again off pit road and the two KBM drivers executed another teammate restart when the field went back green with 28 laps remaining.
·        Stockman’s adjustment brought the Charge Me Tundra back to life and allowed Smith to distance himself from the field once again. With 15 laps remaining the lead was nearly two seconds.
With the large margin, spotter Chris Lambert communicated to Smith “only what you need, same something for us in case there is a caution.” Fortunately for the No. 18 team the race would continue caution free to the end, with Smith crossing the stripe 2.790 seconds ahead of the No. 4 Tundra of Nemechek.
Chandler Smith, driver of the No. 18 Chrage Me Tundra TRD Pro for KBM:
After becoming a first-time Dad earlier this week, how special is this race win?
“God is so good. I’m a Daddy now. My wife had such an amazing labor and delivery. We have an amazing and beautiful baby boy at home. Honey, this is for you and Jr. this is for you as well. I can’t wait to get home to you two tonight. The blessings just keep stacking up. I have an incredible group behind me at KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) and an incredible group of partners with Charge Me, Safelite and everybody. I’m taking this in. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve it, but I’m going to keep taking it in and giving all glory to the Lord.”
Does this race win serve notice that the championship will go through this team?
“I’ll leave that to you guys. Just like I said at media day, if the Good Lord wants it to be our championship, then it will and if it’s not, it’s not. I like how everything is going right now for sure.”
Worldwide Express 250 Recap
  • Smith earned his third NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win of 2022 and will advance to the Round of 8. It was his fifth career victory. Nemechek, Ty Majeski, Grant Enfinger and Corey Heim rounded out the top-five finishers.
  • There were three cautions for 25 laps and three lead changes among three drivers, including Smith who led twice for a race-high 176 laps.
How Chandler Smith's KBM Teammates Fared:
·        John Hunter Nemechek, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished second
·        Corey Heim, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished fifth.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship Standings
With the victory, Smith advances to the Round of 8 of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs with one race remaining in the round. Smith also leads the point standings by two points over regular season champion Zane Smith. With the stage victory and race win, Smith’s playoff point total now sits at 28, which ranks him second to Zane Smith.
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