Chandler Smith fights through the field for a top-10 finish at Portland
Chandler Smith, Step One Motorsports Ambassador and Kaulig Racing driver took to Oregon’s Portland International Raceway road course over the weekend to compete in the Pacific Office Automation 147 race. At the only standalone race on the NASCAR Xfinity schedule, drivers were challenged to complete a 75-lap, 147-mile (237-kilometer) distance around the asphalt track. A recent addition to the schedule, the course is comprised of 12 turns and stretches for a total of 1.967 miles (3.166 kilometers). As has been the case so far this season, the driver behind the wheel of the No. 16 Chevrolet welcomed the challenge with open arms.
On Saturday, Smith put in a strong qualifying to secure himself a P7 start for the race set to start later in the day. An unfortunate lap one incident resulted in the Kaulig Racing driver spun around on the first lap at the infamously tight first corner, effectively sending him to the back of the field upon also serving a pass-through penalty. However, Smith would not be deterred by the setback and made light work of making up ground, carving his way to 22nd from 34th by the end of the first stage. The climb continued onward into the second stage which culminated in the No. 16 Chevy slicing its way to P13 after a patch-up job by his team in pit road. The end of stage two saw him in P20, where the work to dice through the cars in front continued throughout multiple caution periods, with Smith working his way into P11 with just three laps remaining. The race went into overtime and Smith entered the top ten for the first time since proceedings began, crossing the line in P9 upon the checkered flag wave. It was a demonstrative drive, putting on display the enormous resilience and pace in hand by the young driver.
Smith will hit the track again with NASCAR Xfinity in just one week at Sonoma Raceway in California (June 10, 2023).