Chandler Smith will begin his first full-time season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series behind the wheel of Kyle Busch Motorsports’ (KBM) No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra in Friday night’s season-opening event at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The 18-year-old Georgia native will compete for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in 2021 after competing in a part-time schedule for KBM each of the last two seasons.
The Toyota Development Driver has finished inside the top five in half of his 16 career Camping World Truck Series starts, including a career-best runner-up finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in 2019. Smith posted an average finish of 7.7 across his final seven of 12 total Truck Series starts in 2020, including third-place finishes in the series finale at Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway and his first career superspeedway start at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in October.
Smith’s third-place finish at Talladega last October came in his first-ever start in any series on a superspeedway. He participated in ARCA Menards Series testing at Daytona in 2020, but since he was not 18 yet, he was only allowed to make single-car runs.
The talented teenager recorded nine wins, 10 poles and an average finish of 5.3 across 33 ARCA Menards Series starts the last three seasons. He captured the pole in his series debut at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville (Tenn.) in April of 2018 and set an ARCA Menards Series record by winning four consecutive poles to start his career. He earned his first victory at Madison (Wis.) International Speedway in just his fourth series start in June of 2018. Despite running a part-time schedule, he led the series in laps led in both 2018 and 2019.
Paul Andrews, KBM’s shop foreman, will serve as the interim crew chief for the No. 18 team this week while Danny Stockman serves the final race of a three-race suspension for a wheel that fell off at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth last year. Andrews is a veteran crew chief who recorded 12 NASCAR Cup Series wins with Alan Kulwicki (five), Geoffrey Bodine (four), Steve Park (two) and Jeremy Mayfield (one). Kulwicki won the 1992 Cup Series championship with Andrews atop the pit box. The Maine native’s best finish at Daytona was a runner-up result with Jeff Burton in the July Cup Series race in 2003.
Safelite AutoGlass – the nation’s largest provider of vehicle glass repair, replacement, and recalibration services – will adorn the hood of Smith’s No. 18 Tundra for 15 events on Camping World Truck Series schedule in 2021. JBL, the authority in engineering superior sound, will be the primary sponsor for the No. 18 team next week when teams return to Florida take on the road course at Daytona.
Chandler Smith, Driver Q&A:
How does it feel to compete full time for a championship?
“It’s a dream come true. Ever since I was a baby, I’ve always dreamed of running full time in one of the top three series of NASCAR. Here I am with a championship-caliber team in Kyle Busch Motorsports and amazing partners like Safelite AutoGlass. I am beyond blessed for the opportunity.”
What will it be like for you running every race in the same series?
“It’s huge. I can actually focus on one series. I’ve been running ARCA part time, super late models part time, and trucks part time all mixed into one schedule. Last year I was here and there focusing on different packages for different cars. Now, I can solely focus on trucks and where we are that given weekend.”
What goals have you set for yourself this season?
“I think the biggest goal for us as a team is getting to Phoenix and being in the top four with the opportunity to win the championship. I feel like we are more than capable of doing it. There should be nothing holding us back from it.”
You ran Talladega last year. What is your take on superspeedway racing? How are you preparing for Daytona?
“I have a funny story about Talladega. It was a blast for one. For two, I have this weird thing that goes on in my head where I have music playing. I was singing to myself going down the backstretch, but I loved it. It was really stressful, but plate racing is fun.”
Chandler Smith Career Highlights:
Across 16 career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts has recorded 93 laps led, eight top-five and nine top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 12.3.
Posted an average finish of 7.7 across his final seven of 12 total Truck Series starts in 2020, including third-place finishes in the series finale at Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway and his first career superspeedway start at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in October.
Produced three top-five and four top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 4.2 across his first four career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts in 2019. He led 55 laps and finished eighth in his Gander Trucks debut at Iowa Speedway last July and then posted top-five finishes in his final three starts, including a runner-up finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Has collected nine wins, 10 poles, 1761 laps led, 22 top-five and 29 top-10 finishes en route to an average finish of 5.2 across 33 career ARCA Menards Series starts. Set an ARCA Racing Series record by winning four consecutive poles to start his career and earned his first victory after leading a race-high 102 laps at Madison (Wis.) International Speedway in his fourth series start.
KBM-64: The No. 18 Safelite team will unload, KBM-64, for Friday night’s season-opening race at Daytona. It is the same Tundra that Smith piloted to a third-place finish in his first-ever superspeedway race last October at Talladega. Riley Herbst captured the pole, led 21 laps, won the opening stage and finished 12th with it at Daytona last year.
KBM drivers have collected one win, three poles, 102 laps led, four top-five and eight top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 17.1 across 28 starts at Daytona. Owner-driver Kyle Busch picked up the team’s lone victory at the 2.5-mile tri-oval in dramatic fashion in the 2014 season opener, finishing .016 seconds ahead of fellow Toyota competitor Timothy Peters.
KBM holds the Camping World Truck Series records for most career wins (80) and most wins in a single season (14 in 2014). In addition to collecting a series-record seven Owner’s Championships, the organization has produced two championship-winning drivers: Erik Jones (2015) and Christopher Bell (2017).
The No. 18, the number which was on the first Tundra that went to victory lane for KBM in 2010, has 21 career victories.
Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 18 Toyota Tundra Camping World Trucks Box Score: