- Chandler Smith and the No. 18 Charge Me team head to Knoxville Raceway for Saturday’s Clean Harbors 150 looking to continue their charge to the top of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular season point standings. With his fifth-place finish at Sonoma Raceway, the talented teenager closed the gap on reigning Truck Series champion Ben Rhodes to just five points with four races remaining before the regular season champion is crowned. After a 21st-place finish at Darlington, Smith was 32 points behind Rhodes, but over the last five races Smith has narrowed the margin by posting an average finish of 5.6 compared to Rhodes average finish of 14.6 during that span.
- Through the first 12 events of the season Smith ranks first among Truck Series regulars in average finish (8.8) and quality passes (509), third in driver rating (101.0), average starting position (7.8) and average running position (9.007) and fourth in fastest laps run (70). He has produced one win, 96 laps led, six top-five and nine top-10 finishes in his sophomore campaign. With 11 races remaining this season, Smith has already matched the number of top-five and top-10 finishes he had in 2021.
- In last year’s inaugural race at Knoxville, Smith was out front for 71 laps and managed to hold off the ultra-aggressive field for the first two NASCAR overtime periods, but when a quick caution slowed the field during the third overtime period, NASCAR ruled that Austin Hill had narrowly edged past Smith giving Hill the preferred lane choice for the fourth and final overtime. Smith got knocked back two spots on the ensuing restart but made a three-wide pass coming the white flag to get back into the runner up spot, where he would end the event.
- Last week’s race at Sonoma was the 19-year-old drivers 50th career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start. Across his first 25 starts he posted and average finish of 15.24 with no wins, nine top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. Across his last 25 starts the talented wheelman has posted an average finish of 11.6 with three wins, 11 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes.
- The Georgia driver earned NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year honors in 2021 and finished eighth in the championship standings after producing two victories, one pole, 213 laps led, six top-five and nine top-10 finishes in his first full-time season. He earned his first career Truck Series victory at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in September and in the series finale at Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway earned his first career pole and swept all three stages en route to his second victory.
- In addition to his Truck Series schedule in 2022, Smith is competing in a three-race schedule with Sam Hunt Racing (SHR). Smith finished 38th in his series debut at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway after a mid-race wreck and finished 21st at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway. His final race with SHR will come Oct. 22 at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway.
- Veteran crew chief Danny Stockman will once again call the shots for Smith and the No. 18 team in 2022. Stockman’s drivers have produced six victories at KBM across his first two seasons, including two with Smith behind the wheel in 2021. The veteran crew chief captured a Truck Series championship with Austin Dillon in 2011 and also won an Xfinity Series championship with Dillon in 2013. Stockman’s drivers have an average finish of 15.0 across four starts on dirt tracks with Smith’s runner-up finish at Knoxville last year being the best result.
- Charge Me will serve as the primary sponsor on the No. 18 Tundra TRD Pro Saturday. Charge Me was founded on the principle that the electric vehicle (EV) revolution will require robust infrastructure support at all levels. Charge Me will return as the primary sponsor for two more races this season: (June 18), Pocono (Pa.) Raceway (July 23) and Richmond (Va.) Raceway (Aug. 13). Safelite, the nation’s largest provider of vehicle glass repair, replacement and recalibration services will serve as an associate sponsor on the bedtop of Smith’s Toyota Saturday and for 16 races as a primary sponsor in 2022.
After being so close to winning at Knoxville last year is this one you’ve had circled on your calendar this year?
“For sure, I was really emotional after that race and felt like I got that one stolen from me, so that’s one that has been circled on my list to go back there and get some redemption. They had a really cool trophy last year and I wanted it pretty bad, so hopefully they have the same trophy this year. Really looking forward to slinging some mud this weekend in my Charge Me Tundra TRD Pro.”
Do you feel like the race will be as aggressive as it was last year?
“Unfortunately, I’m thinking it’s going to be a lot worse than last year and last year was really bad. We’re bigger picture racing this year, the regular season championship is our main priority right now. We don’t want to put ourselves in any bad situations where we end up losing a bunch of points.”
You had a really strong race at Knoxville last year, how were you able to have such a fast Tundra?
“I think it was a combination of Danny (Stockman, crew chief) and the guys on the No. 18 team preparing a really fast truck and that it seemed to really fit my driving style. Especially, after it slicked off, it drove a lot like a Friday night Super Late Model race on a short track somewhere in America. That’s kind of my background and that’s where I’m from, so it definitely swung my way a little bit. Also, the tire strategy we did at the very end where after the track rubbered up, we stayed out and our tires started slicking off and helped our speed. On the short run and especially on restarts it was really hard to take off because we didn’t have any traction on the dirt. If I could get clear from everybody, I was able to take off, so that’s something that me and my crew chief Danny Stockman has talked about already heading into this year’s race.”