Thursday, Mar 23

After Winning Opening Two Stages, Chandler Smith Finishes Ninth at Bristol

After Winning Opening Two Stages, Chandler Smith Finishes Ninth at Bristol NK Photography Photo
Chandler Smith dominated the early portion of the opening round of the Round of 8 at Bristol Motor Speedway, picking up the opening two stage wins after taking the lead on lap 28 and remaining out front until he hit pit road on lap 117. After the pit stop, the Safelite driver found passing to be at a premium and was only able to work his way just inside the top 10, ultimately bringing home a ninth-place finish.
By scoring 48 points over the course of the race, tied with Stewart Friesen for the most on the night, Smith sits second on the playoff grid, 23 points above the cutoff line for advancing to the Championship 4 with two races remaining in the Round of 8.
Stage One Recap
·        Smith started the 200-lap race from the second position after posting a lap of 15.279 seconds at 125.584 mph in Thursday afternoon’s qualifying session.
·        In the opening laps the Georgia driver settled into the runner-up position before making his way around Derek Kraus for the lead on lap 28.
·        After the first caution of the event occurred on lap 38, Smith reported that the handling of his Safelite Tundra TRD Pro was “pretty damn good.”
·        Smith elected to start from the top of the front row when the field went back green with eight laps remaining in the opening stanza. He would maintain the lead on the restart and cruised to the Stage One win.
Stage Two Recap:
·        During the caution laps between stages, the Toyota Racing Development product communicated to crew chief Danny Stockman that his truck “fired off a little tight there.”
·        Looking to score as many stage points as possible, Stockman made the call to not come down pit road in order to maintain track position and accumulate stage points.
·        Smith once again elected the top of the front row when Stage Two went green on lap 65. He surged to the front once again and would remain there when the field was slowed for the third time on lap 85 for a one-truck spin.
·        Stockman held course on his plan of picking up stage points and kept the No. 18 Toyota on track, while several drivers behind them elected to hit pit road. Under caution, Smith reported that his Tundra was “still a little tight.”
·        As he did for previous restarts, the 20-year-old driver turned right of the arrow on the choose lap and restarted from the top of the front row when the field went back green on lap 91.
·        Another solid restart allowed Smith to capture the second stage, his fifth stage win of the season.
Final Stage Recap:
·        Before hitting pit road, Smith communicated to Stockman “too tight on exit, entry is fine.” The veteran crew chief ordered up a four-tire and fuel stop with a wedge adjustment and the No. 18 Safelite Tundra TRD Pro would be the first truck to exit pit road.
·        Fourteen trucks had remained on track, leaving Smith the 15th driver to elect their position for the ensuing restart. The talented youngster would start his climb back through the field from the top of the seventh row when the Final Stage went green on lap 121.
·        On lap 125 he was scored 13th and on lap 136 cracked the top 10. He was scored in the eighth position when the fifth caution of the night occurred with 50 laps remaining.
·        The Georgia driver chose to start from the top of the fourth row when the field went back green on lap 156. He made a strong surge heading into Turn 1 but was forced to get on the brakes as another competitor in front of him didn’t get as strong of a restart.
·        When the sixth and final caution waved on lap 179, Smith was scored in the eighth position. He communicated to Stockman that he was still “a tick too snug.”
·        The Safelite Tundra lined up at the top of the fourth row for the final restart of the race with 12 laps remaining. Smith was scored eighth with 10 laps remaining but lost one position in the closing laps and crossed the stripe ninth. It was his fifth top-10 finish across the last six races.
Chandler Smith, driver of the No. 18 Safelite Tundra TRD Pro for KBM:
Do you feel like you did enough today for your run towards the Championship 4?
“I guess it is an okay day. I know how stage points really matter – every little bit counts, especially if two drivers win these next two races and they’re Playoff drivers. We want to go to Talladega or Miami and win it, so we don’t have to worry about pointing our way in though. We had this one circled to win. I felt like we had a dominant truck. We had a really, really fast Safelite Toyota Tundra TRD Pro tonight. Once we went stage racing, they played track position at the very end and the 66 (Ty Majeski) and 38 (Zane Smith) were able to get up front. Us and the 52 (Stewart Friesen) were the only two that passed all night. I don’t know how to fix that. It wasn’t good fun racing; I can promise you that. Us as a group, we were just a little bit too tight coming back through the field. I felt like if we were freer, we would have had something for them, but we ran so many caution laps as well. We would have probably run out of time no matter what.” 
UNOH 200 Recap
  • Ty Majeski earned the first win of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career and will advance to the Championship 4. Zane Smith, Parker Kligerman, Grant Enfinger and Matt Crafton rounded out the top-five finishers.
  • There were six cautions for 49 laps and three lead changes among four drivers, including Smith who led a race-high 89 laps. Smith now leads the series in total laps led this season with 423.
How Chandler Smith's KBM Teammates Fared:
·        Corey Heim, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished 10th
·        John Hunter Nemechek, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished 12th
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship Standings
Smith leaves the opening race in the Round of 8 with the most points of any driver (3076) but with Majeski’s win locking him into the Championship 4, sits second on the playoff grid 23 points above the cutoff line for advancing. 
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