Chandler Smith Earns a Top-Five Finish in ‘Wild’ Martinsville Race

By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor

Martinsville, Va. – Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR)’s Chandler Smith went from ‘worst to almost first,’ climbing from the last row of the NASCAR Xfinity Series grid to finish third in the Dude Wipes 250 at Martinsville Speedway.

The Richmond Raceway winner started in the back of the field after a crash in practice kept his No. 81 Wheelers Toyota GR Supra from making a lap in qualifying. Crew chief Jeff Meendering opted to take the car back to the shop in Huntersville, N.C., about two hours away from the Virginia track, for repairs. The team worked throughout the night to repair the suspension and re-wrap the car for the 250-lap race at ‘The Paperclip.’

Smith avoided the chaos at the start of Stage 2 when Brandon Jones missed a shift on a restart in his No. 9 Menards / Scotts Chevrolet Camaro SS. A chain reaction behind Jones collected nearly half the field. Luckily for the 21-year-old, he was in the inside line when the outside line accordioned behind the JR Motorsports driver.

The Talking Rock, GA native continued his climb up the field, finishing eighth in Stage 2. He briefly took the lead with 46 laps to go in the scheduled distance while battling with his JGR teammate, and eventual race winner, Aric Almirola. He took the lead momentarily once again on a restart with 11 laps to before being moved out of the way by Sheldon Creed. Another caution and a chaotic scramble in overtime left Smith third when the checkered flag waved.

“It was really wild,” Smith said. “I definitely had the good Lord looking down on me tonight – just helping me guide through all of that traffic there. There was a point with that big pileup where the No. 9 missed a shift – I was going to take the top, and I ended up taking the bottom and that could have ended our night right there.

“Just really, really proud of everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing. All of the men and women that put this thing back together last night working through the hours of the night. We had a really fast no. 81 Wheelers Toyota GR Supra. Just got a little behind on my adjustments there in the end, but we have really good notes for when we come back in the fall.”

The third-place finish was Smith’s sixth top-five finish of the season. It also earned him another berth in the Xfinity Dash 4 Cash program at Texas Motor Speedway. Joining Smith as Dash 4 Cash competitors at Texas are Justin Allgaier, Sam Mayer, and Creed.

The top-five finish keeps Smith in the points lead. Victories at Phoenix Raceway and Richmond have him locked into the Xfinity Series playoffs.

Next for Smith is the Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 at the No Limits, TX track. In one Xfinity start at the track, he has a fourth-place finish.

The Andy’s Frozen Custard at Texas is scheduled for Saturday, April 13, at 1:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. The race will also be broadcast on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

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