Short track ace Chandler Smith (No. 20 Craftsman Toyota) earned his fifth career ARCA Menards Series General Tire Pole Award in qualifying for tonight’s ARCA Pensacola 200 presented by Inspectra Thermal Solutions at Five Flags Speedway.
Smith, a sixteen-year-old with several years of super late model experience at Five Flags, nipped his Venturini Motorsports teammate Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota) by just two one-thousandths of a second to score his first pole of the season in his first attempt. By ARCA rule, Smith is not eligible to compete on tracks larger than one mile in length and therefore he did not race at Daytona.
Smith’s fast lap was 16.990 seconds/105.945 miles per hour, eclipsing Gary Bradberry’s track record of 101.120 miles per hour set in 1994.
“If I told everyone my secrets they wouldn’t be a secret anymore,” Smith joked while celebrating his pole award win. “It’s just a testament to the Venturini Motorsports guys. They work really hard on these cars. I can’t wait to get out there and race. The plan is to go out and lead all 200 laps. We missed it by one at Salem last fall and we want to fix that here today.”
Carson Hocevar (No. 28 Scott’s/Berger Chevrolet/ KBR Development Chevrolet) was third, series newcomer Corey Heim (No. 22 Speedway Children’s Charities Ford) was fourth, and former Five Flags Speedway pro late model division champion Bret Holmes (No. 23 Holmes II Excavation/Southern States Bank Chevrolet) was fifth.
The top five in qualifying was separated by just 0.089 seconds.
Raphael Lessard (No. 19 FRL Express Chevrolet), 2016 Snowball Derby winner Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota), 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock division champion Tanner Gray (No. 54 Valvoline/Durst Toyota), Kaden Honeycutt (No. 38 Kaden Honeycutt Racing Ford) and Ty Gibbs (No. 18 Monster Energy/ORCA Coolers/Advance Auto Parts Toyota) was tenth.
The ARCA Pensacola 200 presented by Inspectra Thermal Solutions 200 is scheduled to be broadcast live on MAVTV starting at 8 pm ET/7 pm CT. ARCA for Me members can follow along with live timing & scoring at ARCARacing.com; new members can join for free at ARCARacing.com/login.