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Dominant Chandler Smith Takes Fourth Straight Short Track Win in Fans with Benefits 150

After leading the afternoon’s practice session and winning the General Tire Pole Award, Chandler Smith (No. 20 Craftsman/828 Logistics Toyota) put a period on a clean sweep of the ARCA Menards Series Fans with Benefits 150 with a dominant victory Friday night at Iowa Speedway. Smith led the first 106 laps before losing the lead on pit road during the penultimate caution flag of the night. Once back under green, it took him just 10 laps to knife his way through the field to retake the lead from Ty Gibbs (No. 18 Monster Energy/ORCA Coolers/Terrible Herbst/Advance Auto Parts Toyota) to lead the final 35 laps.

The win is Smith’s fourth of the season, and his fourth consecutive ARCA Menards Series short track victory.

Smith wasn’t hampered at all by traffic or the dreaded aero push as he sliced his way through the field.

“The only time I ever felt the car respond to aero all night was when I passed a lap car on the outside,” Smith said. “Other than that it was perfect. I can’t thank Billy and the rest of the Venturini Motorsports team for giving me such a great car here. To have five wins on the season is a dream come true.”

It’s the second time this season the 17-year-old from Talking Rock, Georgia has raced at the 0.875-mile D-shaped oval. He led the first 55 laps of the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race here earlier in the season in his debut driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

“I learned a lot that carried over here to the ARCA car,” Smith said. “They have the same engine and the same power so a lot of the way they drive is similar. Any time you get extra laps is a benefit.”

Smith’s late-race charge to the front was necessitated by a miscue on the final pit stop.

“We had some sort of jack malfuction,” he said. “It’s all just part of it. I really wanted to lead them all tonight but we’re still leaving here with the trophy and that’s what matters.”

Smith led a Venturini Motorsports sweep of the top three finishers. Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota) was second in front of Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota) in third.

“I thought I got a better restart than Chandler did on the final restart,” Eckes said. “We went down into one and just got way too loose. When the track is as hot and slick as it was tonight I don’t know if that’s what it was or if we were just too loose. But this is as hot as I’ve ever been in the racecar.”

As if the 90-degree temperatures weren’t enough of a challenge, Self fought a gearbox issue that left his car stuck in fourth gear for most of the night. On each restart he would drop back through the field and be forced to pass the same cars repeatedly as he charged back to the front.

“The only time we had all the gears was on the initial start of the race,” Self said. “Every other restart we would drop back through the field and have to pass our way back towards the front. It really felt like it was one of the most physical races I’ve ever driven because I was always racing someone for position all night long. The final restart we didn’t lose as many positions as the others because it was just a couple of laps to go and I held it wide open through turns one and two and whatever happened happened.”

The race was slowed four times by cautions, twice for debris and twice for incidents on track. Scott Melton (No. 69 Melton McFadden Agency Toyota) spun to bring out the first caution of the night on lap ten, and the final caution of the night was necessitated for a spin by Tim Richmond, who nosed into the inside wall going into turn one, with just eight laps to go.

Smith took one hour, 20 minutes, and 40 seconds to claim the win at an average speed of 97.624 miles per hour. His margin of victory over Eckes was 1.515 seconds.

Next up for the ARCA Menards Series is the FORTS USA 150 at Pocono Raceway on Friday, July 26. Practice starts at 9 am ET with General Tire Pole Qualifying set for 1:35 pm ET and the green flag on the FORTS USA 150 set to fly at 4 pm ET. The race will be televised live flag to flag on FS1. ARCARacing.com will have live timing & scoring, live user chat, and live track updates for registered users at ARCARacing.com. New users can register for free with a valid email address at ARCARacing.com/login. For ticket information please visit PoconoRaceway.com.

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Chandler Smith Scores Third ARCA Menards Series Win of 2019 with Dominant Performance at Elko

Chandler Smith (No. 20 Craftsman/828 Logistics Toyota) recovered from a mid-race spin to win the ARCA Menards Series Menards 250 at Elko Speedway on Saturday night. Smith, who started seventh, was dominant throughout the race, able to drive way to a full straightaway lead on several occasions on his way to his third series victory of the season.

Although he had the dominant car, Smith did have to work for it. He slid in oil laid down in turn one by another competitor and spun on lap 146 and dropped to the tail of the lead lap. By virtue of a fast car and numerous mid-race cautions that continued to jumble the running order, Smith was able to knife his way back to the lead by lap 209. From there, he was able to drive away to nearly a full straightaway lead crossing the stripe 4.147 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Ty Gibbs (No. 18 Monster Energy/ORCA Coolers/Terrible Herbst/Advance Auto Parts Toyota).

“I was so mad when I spun down there in one,” Smith said post-race. “I was the only one riding the top groove at that point and there was oil all over the place. It just went around so slow, like it was in slow motion. I though we might have had a tire go down or maybe even got hit. I was just mad. You definitely didn’t want to hear our radio traffic after that happened.”

For his part, Gibbs thought he could have challenged Smith for the win but lost track position on the final restart and couldn’t ever close the gap.

“Everyone jumbled up on the final restart,” Gibbs said. “We lost a ton of track position and just couldn’t make it up.”

Sam Mayer (No. 21 Chevy Accessories Chevrolet) finished third.

“It was a crazy night out there but we don’t have any scratches on the car,” he said. “We’ll take it. We have some K&N Pro Series races coming up over the next month so we won’t be back until Salem and Indy in the fall, but we think we’ll be able to come back and get us a win in one of those two races.”

Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota) finished fourth by inches over Corey Heim (No. 22 Speedway Children’s Charities Ford). Self was racing for position with General Tire Pole Award winner Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota) on the final lap when the two made contact, sending Eckes for a smoky spin off turn four coming to the checkered. Eckes would finish eleventh, the final driver on the lead lap.

“Right now I can’t think of anything else from this race but the last lap,” Self said afterwards. “I absolutely hate that we got into Christian on the last lap. He’s not only my teammate but he’s one of my best friends. It puts a real damper on the night.”

The race was action-packed, with a slew of cautions for incidents throughout the middle stages of the race. One of those cautions involved championship contenders Bret Holmes (No. 23 Holmes II Excavation Chevrolet) and Travis Braden (No. 27 MatrixCare/Consonus Health Care/Liberty Village Ford). The two made contact on the frontstretch on lap 198, with Holmes catching a piece of the wall and Braden receiving body damage to the rear end of his car. Four laps later the two came together again with Braden spinning. Holmes finished ninth while Braden finished 12th.

Next up for the ARCA Menards Series is the Fans with Benefits 150 at Iowa Speedway on Friday, July 19. Practice is set for 12:45 pm ET/11:45 am CT, General Tire Pole Qualifying follows at 4:45 pm ET/3:45 pm CT, and the Fans with Benefits 150 will go green at 9 pm ET/8 pm CT. The race will be televised live on MAVTV. ARCA for Me members can access live timing & scoring, live user chat, and live track updates for free at ARCARacing.com. New users can register for free with a valid email address at ARCARacing.com/login. Fans can purchase tickets at a 15% discount at Des Moines area Menards locations.

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Chandler Smith Takes Second Straight ARCA Menards Series Win at Madison with Victory in Shore Lunch 200

After dominating the first three quarters of the ARCA Menards Series Shore Lunch 200 at Madison International Speedway, Chandler Smith (No. 20 Craftsman/828 Logistics Toyota) had to utilize pit strategy and some hard racing to earn his second straight series victory. Smith won the last time he raced in the ARCA Menards Series at Toledo Speedway in May.

Smith, who started from the General Tire Pole after setting a track record in qualifying, stretched out nearly a half-lap lead as the field raced the first 112 laps caution-free. Then, Corey Heim (No. 22 Speedway Children’s Charities Ford) lost control in turn three and made contact with the wall bringing out the first caution of the night. From there on, Smith would face pressure from – and eventually lose the lead to – Ty Gibbs (No. 18 Monster Energy/ORCA Coolers/Terrible Herbst/Advance Auto Parts Toyota).

Gibbs would hold the lead until a red flag for rain with 38 laps remaining. Just before the red was displayed, Smith came to the pits for two tires, and when the field went back under caution after the weather cell passed through the rest of the lead lap cars came to pit road handing the lead back to Smith.

Smith lost the lead to Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota) on the restart, and Smith would lose second to his other Venturini Motorsports teammate Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota) with 25 laps to go when Eckes made contact in turn one.

Eckes would go on to pressure Self for the lead but would spin down the frontstretch on lap 180. He would go on to finish seventh.

Once back under green, Self would retain the lead on the restart but Smith would move him out of the way just as their teammate Hailie Deegan’s engine expired. That would put the field under the red for the second time of the night for track cleanup, and left just five laps to settle it once back under green.

Self spun his tires on the restart, scrambling the field behind him. Gibbs would receive the black flag for changing lanes on the restart, and dropped from second to eighth at the finish.

Smith was ecstatic with his win, even if he had to knock fenders to do it.

“We’re in victory lane and that’s what matters,” he said. “If those guys are upset, I am sorry but it was rough out there tonight. I had people run into me all night long. That’s just how it was.”

Smith knew the only chance he had to win was to pit before the rest of the field did while it was sprinkling and hope the weather moved through quick enough to get back underway.

“It was out only hope at that point,” he said. “It could have rained and we would have been eighth or tenth. But once we got back underway we knew everyone else would pit and we’d get our track position back.”

Self was happy to finish second in his first ever appearance at Madison.

“This is a much better outcome than it could have been tonight,” Self said. “We went from asking Chandler how to get around this place to battling him for the win in about eight hours. I can’t say enough about my team to help make that happen. I am not mad about it at all but he did get into us down there and move me out of the way. I get it. That’s what he had to do.”

The Venturini duo finished just ahead of Sam Mayer (No. 21 Chevy Accessories Chevrolet), who hails from nearby Franklin, Wisconsin. Travis Braden (No. 27 MatrixCare/Consonus Health Care/Liberty Village Ford) was fourth and Bret Holmes (No. 23 Holmes II Excavation/Champion Power Equipment Chevrolet) rounded out the top five.

There were five caution flags and two red flags that slowed the pace, including a red flag for rain and for clean up after Deegan’s engine failure.

Smith led three times for a total of 166 laps, while Gibbs led for 14 and Self led for 20 laps. Smith needed one hour, 29 minutes, and nine seconds to complete the 200-lap distance at an average speed of 67.302 miles per hour. His official margin of victory over Self was 1.422 seconds.

Next up for the ARCA Menards Series is the Day to Day Coffee 150 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway coming up on Saturday, June 22. Practice starts at 12:35 pm ET/11:35 am CT, with General Tire Pole Qualifying set for 5:30 pm ET/4:30 pm CT, and the 120-lap/150-mile race will go green at 7:45 pm ET/6:45 pm CT. The race will be televised live on MAVTV. ARCA for Me members can access live timing & scoring, live track updates, and live chat at ARCARacing.com. New users can register for free with a valid email at ARCARacing.com/login.

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Chandler Smith Dominates Rain Shortened Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 at Toledo Speedway

Chandler Smith (No. 20 Craftsman/828 Logistics Toyota) won the rain shortened ARCA Menards Series Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 presented by Federated Car Care at Toledo Speedway, leading 140 of the race’s 152 laps.

Rain threatened throughout the day, but the race started on time. Smith started second, alongside Venturini Motorsports teammate Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota), who earned the General Tire Pole Award in qualifying on Saturday. Self would lead the first ten laps but faced pressure from Smith the entire time. Eventually, Smith would dip to the inside and work his way by and drove off to a full straightaway advantage over the battle for second.

Smith could see the rain was coming as the race ran to its ultimate conclusion, and even hoped it would come sooner than later.

“Whenever you’re the leader and you can see rain coming and the race is past halfway you want it to hurry up and get there,” Smith said. “I knew as soon as it started raining it wasn’t going to stop so we needed to get out front and stay out front. That’s what we did. These Venturini Motorsports guys do a great job giving me racecars that can dominate these races. I drive them the same way I drive my late model cars and that’s where we were able to beat them all today. We had more drive off the corners and that’s what it took.”

Ty Gibbs (No. 18 Monster Energy/ORCA Coolers/Terrible Herbst/Advance Auto Parts Toyota) finished second, his third runner-up finish in four career ARCA Menards Series races.

“I don’t know what the record is for most second-place finishes before someone gets their first win,” Gibbs asked, “but I think we’re in the hunt for it. We’re getting a little tired of finishing second at this point. We just ran out of time before the rain came. I think we needed another ten laps and we could have had something for them at the end.”

Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota) finished third, Self was fourth, and Sam Mayer (No. 21 Chevy Accessories Chevrolet) was fifth.

The race was slowed a total of four times by caution flags, two for incidents and two for rain, one of which ultimately ended the race. The first incident happened on lap 30 involving Joe Graf, Jr. (No. 77 EAT SLEEP RACE Ford) and Hailie Deegan (No. 55 Toyota Racing Development 40th Anniversary Toyota), both of whom made heavy contact with the foam blocks lining the outside wall in turn three. Graf would finish 17th and Deegan with finish 18th, and last, in her series debut.

The second incident of the day involved the championship leader going into the race Travis Braden (No. 27 MatrixCare/Consonus Health Care/Liberty Village Ford), who hit the blocks in turn one on lap 79. Braden would finish 13th, falling back to second in the standings 25 points behind Self.

There were two leaders on the day, Self from the pole and Smith, who led from lap 13 through the checkered at lap 152. The race was slowed four times for 23 laps and was ultimately shortened by 48 laps due to rain. Along with the race at Salem Speedway, it’s the second time in six races in 2019 that a race has been shortened by rain. The race took 59 minutes and 22 seconds and was completed at an average speed of 76.811 miles per hour.

The next event on the ARCA Menards Series schedule is the General Tire 150 at Charlotte Motor Speedway coming up on Thursday, May 23. Practice is set for 11:30 am ET, General Tire Pole Qualifying will follow at 5 pm ET, and the race will go green at 9 pm ET live on FS1. ARCA for Me members can access free live timing & scoring, live track updates, and live chat at ARCARacing.com. New users can register for free at ARCARacing.com/login. For ticket information call (800) 455-FANS or log on to CharlotteMotorSpeedway.com.