Chandler Smith quick out of the blocks in NASCAR Cup Series debut at Richmond Raceway
Step One Motorsports Ambassador Chandler Smith tackled a double-header weekend to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut at Richmond Raceway. The oval is a mainstay on the Cup Series calendar, having made its first appearance in 1953. It’s a short track circuit on which the drivers are required to complete a three-stage race comprised of 400 laps total. The asphalt track sees drivers carrying average speeds of over 90 mph (145 kph) throughout the Toyota Cares 250.
Coming off the back of an Xfinity Series race the day prior, one that saw Smith grab his first win in the series, would be no small feat but he tackled it head-on despite both practice and qualifying being canceled due to weather conditions not being conducive to track time.
Given no qualifying took place, Smith’s starting position was set by a metric from the series, the position being P37, which was last place. Smith began making up positions and avoided incidents during the first stage. The second stage brought with it a battle with Smith’s teammate, Justin Haley. Both drivers gave each other plenty of racing room and indeed, respect. At the halfway mark, Smith found himself in P29 while receiving positive feedback about his race pace. He commented on the radio that he was having a lot of fun while having a great learning experience, which is exactly what the rookie was hoping for entering the Cup Series for the first time. As the laps ticked down, he found himself continuing an upward trend. He eventually crossed the line in P17, an impressive 20 places higher than his initial starting position. Smith successfully achieved his goals of driving a complete Cup Series race distance and gaining valuable knowledge to propel his racing to new heights.
Smith will race in the Cup Series again within the 2023 season, however, his next racing opportunity comes in the form of a NASCAR Xfinity race weekend, also in Virginia, at Martinsville Speedway (14-15 April).