Chandler Smith on NASCAR Truck debut: "Look where I am now"

Jim Utter

Smith, a 16-year-old from Talking Rock, Ga., makes his first Truck Series start Saturday night in the M&M’s 200 at Iowa Speedway, driving the No. 51 Toyota.

Smith, who has three victories and six poles in 13 starts in the ARCA Racing Series, has four starts planned in the Truck Series this season with KBM and is also scheduled to compete in the prestigious Super Late Model races for KBM.

To prepare for his Trucks debut, Smith tested with the No. 51 team as part of a rookie test at Iowa on May 24. He completed 250 laps around the 7/8-mile oval.

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“I’ve always dreamed about racing in NASCAR in general, whether it’s the Truck Series or Xfinity Series or even the Cup Series when I get a little older, if I ever get that opportunity,” Smith said. “It’s definitely kind of a dream come true.

“I’ve always dreamed of racing when I was a little kid, when I was watching NASCAR and I was like ‘I really want to do this someday,’ and look where I am now. I’m doing it now and for the best team there is in the series.

“I’m very blessed to be where I am now, and thankful for everyone that’s been around me and that’s gotten me here.”

In one ARCA start at Iowa he started seventh and finished second. His most recent win came May 19 at Toledo (Ohio) Speedway, where he led 140 of 152 laps in the rain-shortened event.

In addition to his ARCA experience, Smith has competed in several marquee Super Late Model events, including a second-place finish in the Winchester 400 and a victory in the CRA SpeedFest in Cordele, Ga.

Smith believes his previous ARCA race at Iowa and his recent test in the Truck have made him familiar with the track.

“I’m going to have to get used to the aero deal, with racing around trucks, all the dirty air, it’s just going to be a learning curve for me, so I feel like that’s going to be the biggest challenge, just getting used to that,” he said.

“Being able to make the right moves and at the right time is important. I think that’s going to be the biggest thing, but other than that, I really like Iowa, and the trucks are the perfect fit for that track.”

Smith will also compete in Trucks with KBM in the June 28 race at Gateway, Aug. 15 at Bristol; and Nov. 7 at Phoenix.

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