Courtesy of ARCA Communications
Madison, Wisc. — Fifteen-year-old Chandler Smith scored his first career ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards win in the Herr’s 200 at Madison International Speedway on Friday night. Smith also led the practice session earlier in the day, and earned his fourth consecutive General Tire Pole in qualifying.
Smith dropped to the tail of the lead lap with loose right side wheels in the early portion of the race. As Smith was slowing with those wheel issues on lap 37, Tommy Vigh, Jr. spun in Turn 4 to put the field under the third caution of the evening, which allowed Smith to pit and stay on the lead lap.
Smith made an unscheduled stop under caution on Lap 39, and when the green waved three laps later he restarted 13th. The Talking Rock, Georgia, native quickly worked his way back up into the top five. By the halfway mark, he had moved back into third behind Zane Smith and Chase Purdy, both of whom looked like they could potentially be the car to beat. But by Lap 126, Chandler dipped to the low side on a restart and moved into the lead, a lead he wouldn’t relinquish.
By the checkered flag, he built up an 11-second lead over Zane Smith, current series point leader Sheldon Creed, Chase Purdy, and Gus Dean. The second five across the stripe were Natalie Decker, Bret Holmes, Eddie Fatscher, Colby Howard and Toni Breidinger. The top six cars were on the lead lap at the finish.
“We just had a little luck on our side,” Smith said. “I am really blessed with the group of guys I have behind me. Venturini Motorsports gave me a heck of a Toyota Camry tonight. That was the first time I ever got sprayed by potato chips in victory lane. Pretty wild!”
Smith completed the 200 laps in 1 hour, 25 minutes, 1 second at an average speed of 70.570 miles per hour. There were a total of six cautions for 43 laps. Fifteen of the race’s 19 starters were running at the finish.
Creed continues to unofficially lead the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards championship standings over Smith in second. Zane Smith unofficially retains the Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge points lead with his second place finish heading into the next series short track points event at Iowa Speedway on July 7. Zane Smith also unofficially retains his lead in the CGS Imaging 4 Crown Championship standings heading into the next event at Pocono Raceway on July 27.
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards returns to action next Friday night at Gateway Motorsports Park. There is an open test next Thursday, while official practice starts at 1 pm local (2 pm ET) on Friday June 22, with General Tire Pole Qualifying qualifying set at 5:30 pm local (6:30 pm ET). The green flag over the Papa Nicholas Coffee 150 (120 laps/150 miles) is scheduled for 8 pm local (9 pm ET).