- Chandler Smith and the No. 18 Safelite team head into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs on a high note after dominating the regular season finale at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Smith led 49 of 60 laps, collected a stage win and the trophy and secured the second position in the regular season standings with his performance last week. With the 10 playoff points he collected for finishing second in the regular season standings, 10 points for his two victories and two points for his stage wins, the 20-year-old driver enters the Round of 10 second on the playoff grid with 2022 points, 20 markers ahead of the cutline for advancing to the Round of 8.
- The Truck Series will be visiting Indianapolis Raceway Park for the first time since 2011, but Smith has experienced remarkable success at the 0.686-mile oval in the ARCA Menards Series. He finished third in his first visit in 2018 and then collected the hardware in each of his last two trips. In 2018 he led just seven laps en route to victory but in 2020 he dominated the race by being out front for 162 of 200 laps.
- Smith made the playoffs in his rookie campaign last year as the 10th seed. He advanced to the Round of 8 with a must-win victory at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in the final race in the Round of 10. He found himself in another must-win situation in the final race in the Round of 8 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and saw his playoff run end when he finished fourth. As a consolation prize, he won the pole and swept all three stages in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series finale at Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway.
- The Toyota Racing Development product finished the 2022 regular season with two wins, seven top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. He has already eclipsed the number of top-five and to-10 finishes he recorded in his rookie campaign. Through the first 16 events of the season Smith ranks first among Truck Series regulars in laps completed (2012) and quality passes (545), second in average finish (8.8) and average running position (9.165) and third in driver rating (101.0).
- The Georgia driver earned NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year honors in 2021 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 of 2021. Across 54 career Truck Series starts, the Toyota Racing Development driver had recorded four wins, one pole, 451 laps led, 21 top-five and 29 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 13.1.
- 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 eight victories at KBM since he joined the organization in 2020, including four with Smith behind the wheel. 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 collected one pole (Dillon, 2011), and two top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 7.5 across two Truck Series starts at IRP. His best result was a sixth-place finish with Dillon in 2010.
- Safelite, the nation’s largest provider of vehicle glass repair, replacement and recalibration services, returns to KBM for a fifth season and will be the primary sponsor on Smith’s Tundra TRD Pro Tundra for 16 races this year, including Friday’s race at IRP. Charge Me will serve as an associate sponsor on the bedtop of Smith’s No. 18 Tundra TRD Pro this weekend. Charge Me was founded on the principle that the electric vehicle (EV) revolution will require robust infrastructure support at all levels.
Do you feel like you have momentum on your side heading into the playoffs after dominating Pocono?
“Momentum is definitely on our side — we had a really fast Charge Me Toyota Tundra at Pocono. Looking forward to going to IRP – I have a lot of experience there, I’ve been there three times and won twice in the ARCA Menards Series. I’ve always wanted to go there in a Super Late Model and now it’ll be cool to be going there in the Truck Series. Really looking forward to getting my Safelite Toyota Tundra to victory lane there as well.”
You’ve had success at IRP in the ARCA Menards Series. Does that track fit your driving style?
“I suppose, because honestly Turn 3 at Pocono and Turn 1 at Phoenix – which I feel like I’m respectable at – are very similar to IRP as far as the banking and all, it’s pretty flat. So, I would’ve never have thought of myself to be a good flat track racer, but for some reason if I look back on my history, I show to be pretty decent at those. I guess flat tracks are kind of in my wheelhouse a little bit, I don’t know why that is, but I have a good history with them.”
Are you more prepared to make a championship run this year now that you have playoff experience?
“Yes. I think just because of the maturity factor that goes into it. Last year to this year I’ve matured a lot as far as just understanding how important it is to get playoff points and what that means and what that is going to do for you if you advance to the next round. Different scenarios and understanding that and realizing how important that is. Last year’s experience definitely helped a lot for the bigger picture, which is this year, so look forward to hopefully making it to Phoenix.”