By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
Toyota Racing Development driver Chandler Smith turned heads in his NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series debut at Iowa Speedway.
It appeared that the 16-year-old was going to duel eventual race winner Ross Chastain after a lightning fast pit stop by his Rudy Fugle-led Kyle Busch Motorsports team. However, Smith was penalized for speeding entering the pits. He was sent to the tail-end of the longest line.
Smith quickly worked his way back into the top-10. The progress of his No. 51 Safelite Toyota Tundra stalled out in the ninth position. The Talking Rock, GA native tried to find a way by Stewart Friesen and Matt Crafton to no avail. Smith took the checkered flag for the M&M’s 200 presented by Casey’s General Store in ninth.
“We just over-adjusted a little bit at the end,” Smith admitted. “The rear end was completely swinging outwards from entry all the way to exit. I just couldn’t really maintain a good confident speed and keep the momentum up enough like I was the first segment.”
The speeding penalty was just the second time that the pole sitter had to climb up through the field. When the race started, Smith had radio problems and was unable to hear Fugle or his spotter. He led the first 55 laps before taking an extended pit stop under the first caution to replace the radio.
“It goes from dominating stage 1 to coming down pit road and having a radio failure,” Smith explained. “We had to do some radio stuff on pit road and then we had to go from the rear back to the front. I sped down pit road and we came out second, so it was just an up and down day. Overall it was a good learning day. I think we’ll take it and go to Gateway.”
After he forfeited a top-10 finish in the first stage, Smith surged forward. In a caution-free second stage, he climbed up to take the green and checkered flag in fifth.
Iowa was just the first of a four-race schedule for Smith in the Truck Series with KBM. His next scheduled race is the Gateway 200 Presented by CK Power at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway in the KBM No. 46 Toyota Tundra.