NASCAR Truck Series

Chandler Smith activates clutch gene, wins UNOH 200

3 Mins read
Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Chandler Smith entered Friday’s UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway as the ninth of ten drivers and needed a win to advance to the next round of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs. In a dramatic five-lap restart, he did just that as he held off the dominant truck of Sheldon Creed and got some help from Kyle Busch Motorsports team-mate John Hunter Nemechek to win his maiden Truck race.

Creed, who hoped to sweep the Round of 10 by winning all three races, started on the pole and quickly asserted his dominance by leading every lap in the first two stages. When Carson Hocevar finally marked the first “lead change” of the night by staying out under caution before Stage #3, Creed had led a career-best 116 straight laps; his previous best was 114 en route to his Gateway win two rounds prior.

While Creed led the way throughout the first two segments, trucks behind him began wrecking quickly with three cautions coming out in Stage #1. The first yellow flag came after two laps when Sam Mayer spun while racing Spencer Boyd, with Howie DiSavino III and Josh Reaume also taking damage. Tanner Gray and Boyd also brought out cautions with spins of their own, the latter once again tangling with DiSavino. By the end of the stage, Creed led Austin Hill, Matt Crafton, Zane Smith, Grant Enfinger, Hocevar, Stewart Friesen, Todd Gilliland, Tyler Ankrum, and Johnny Sauter; Enfinger, Ankrum, and Sauter were non-playoff drivers.

Lap 69 was not very nice as eight drivers were involved in a frontstretch crash: Drew Dollar got loose off turn four while racing Enfinger and Chase Purdy, causing him to go sideways and clip Cory Roper, triggering a pile-up as Tate Fogleman, Dawson Cram, and DiSavino drove into him. Lawless Alan attempted to dodge the stationary Dollar and spun after diving to the inside. The accident resulted in a red flag that lasted six minutes, twenty-three seconds before resumption.

By the end of Stage #2, Creed led Ankrum, Hill, Zane and Chandler Smith, Nemechek, Friesen, Enfinger, Parker Kligerman, and Crafton. Enfinger and Kligerman are both part-time drivers and thus not in playoff contention.

Although Hocevar snapped Creed’s lead between stages, it did not last long as he eventually pulled ahead on the restart. On lap 129, Kligerman spun after contact with Hailie Deegan while Clay Greenfield also went around. Another accident involving Purdy, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Taylor Gray, and Zane Smith on lap 154 resulted in a yellow as well.

On the ensuing lap 164 green flag, Nemechek broke up the Creed/Hocevar front row to take second from the latter. Seven laps later, Kligerman spun on his own, setting up a restart and battle between Creed and Nemechek. The two ran side-by-side before Creed cleared him on lap 179, though another reprieve came moments later for Austin Wayne Self‘s spin. While Creed still led, Chandler Smith pounced on the restart to claim second from Nemechek.

A larger crash took place two laps later when Hill was clipped by Josh Berry into the inside wall and bounced up into Deegan, destroying their trucks and collecting Alan and Self. The accident eliminated Hill from the playoffs.

Creed and Smith, respectively on the outside and inside, paced the field to the final restart with six laps left. The two ran side-by-side before contact sent Creed up and into the wall which Nemechek capitalised upon to take the lead. However, Nemechek slowed and his team-mate passed by, which enabled Smith to lock himself into the Round of 8.

Gilliland finished tenth but joined Hill as the two eliminated drivers. Despite leading a career-high 190 laps, the contact and eventual spin from a downed tyre resulted in him placing nineteenth and two laps down. Whelen Modified Tour great Doug Coby finished twelfth in his maiden national series start.

Race results

1718Chandler SmithKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota200Running
2698Grant EnfingerThorSport RacingToyota200Running
324John Hunter NemechekKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota200Running
4552Stewart FriesenHalmar Friesen RacingToyota200Running
51313Johnny SauterThorSport RacingToyota200Running
6842Carson HocevarNiece MotorsportsChevrolet200Running
7488Matt CraftonThorSport RacingToyota200Running
8921Zane SmithGMS RacingChevrolet200Running
91199Ben RhodesThorSport RacingToyota200Running
10338Todd GillilandFront Row MotorsportsFord200Running
111725Josh Berry*Rackley WARChevrolet200Running
123024Doug CobyGMS RacingChevrolet200Running
131519Derek KrausMcAnally-Hilgemann RacingToyota200Running
141622Austin Wayne SelfAM RacingChevrolet200Running
15209Colby Howard*CR7 MotorsportsChevrolet200Running
162640Ryan TruexNiece MotorsportsChevrolet200Running
173256Timmy HillHill MotorsportsChevrolet200Running
182545Lawless AlanNiece MotorsportsChevrolet200Running
1912Sheldon CreedGMS RacingChevrolet198Running
203704Cory RoperRoper RacingFord198Running
211475Parker KligermanHenderson MotorsportsChevrolet197Running
223932Sam Mayer*Bret Holmes RacingChevrolet193Running
233411Clay GreenfieldSpencer Davis MotorsportsToyota193Running
241016Austin HillHattori Racing EnterprisesToyota188Accident
25231Hailie DeeganDavid Gilliland RacingFord188Accident
263833C.J. McLaughlinReaume Brothers RacingToyota188Running
273610Jennifer Jo CobbJennifer Jo Cobb RacingFord188Running
28333Howie DiSavino IIIJordan Anderson RacingChevrolet169Electrical
293517Taylor GrayDavid Gilliland RacingFord156Accident
301923Chase PurdyGMS RacingChevrolet154Accident
312720Spencer BoydYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet146Overheating
321826Tyler AnkrumGMS RacingChevrolet123Accident
332230Danny BohnOn Point MotorsportsToyota70Accident
341251Drew DollarKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota69Accident
352941Dawson CramCram Racing EnterprisesChevrolet69Accident
362402Kris Wright #Young’s MotorsportsChevrolet69Engine
373112Tate FoglemanYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet30Accident
382115Tanner GrayDavid Gilliland RacingFord21Accident
394049Ray CiccarelliCMI MotorsprotsFord15Rear Gear
402834Josh ReaumeReaume Brothers RacingToyota3Accident
Bold – Currently in playoffs
Underline – Eliminated from playoffs
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Truck points
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Justin is neither a NASCAR nor off-road racer, but he has covered them for The Checkered Flag since 2018.
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