By Brian Eberly, Contributing Writer
SALEM, Ind. – Chandler Smith was evaluated and released from a local hospital on Sunday after a hard crash on the last lap of the ARCA Racing Series event at Salem Speedway.
Smith’s No. 20 Toyota was the dominant car of the race, leading 117 of the 200 laps. But his Venturini Motorsports teammate Christian Eckes was the first car off pit road during the money stop and Smith was left chasing Eckes down over the final laps.
The duo were nose-to-tail and side-by-side throughout the final run to the checkered flag, but Smith wasn’t able to make the pass for the lead. As they barreled into turn one on the white flag lap, Smith slid up the 33-degree banking and slammed hard into the outside wall. Venturini Motorsports confirmed the right-front tire went down on Smith’s Toyota, leading to the wreck.
Smith has burst onto the ARCA scene this season, making his debut at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville two weeks ago. The 15-year-old driver led the lone practice session, won the General Tire pole award and finished fifth after leading 51 laps.
This weekend at Salem, he again led the lone practice session and captured the General Tire pole award.
After nearly winning last year at the Snowball Derby, All-American 400 and Winchester 400 the talented teen finally was able to break out earlier this year by capturing his first career super late model victory in the ARCA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS at Watermelon Capital Speedway.
Smith is slated to make four more starts this season in ARCA competition, at Toledo Speedway (May 20), Iowa Speedway (July 7), Lucas Oil Raceway (September 7) and the fall race back at Salem Speedway (September 15).
Smith was not made available for comment after his hospital visit. Stay tuned to Motorsports Tribune this week as we work to follow up with Smith.