Chandler Smith shows grit at NASCAR Xfinity Series’ first-ever Sonoma Raceway outing
This past weekend Step One Ambassador and Kaulig Racing driver Chandler Smith hit the track at a road course in the southern Sonoma Mountains in Sonoma, California for the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity DoorDash 250. The race was contested over 70 laps at the 1.99-mile (3.20-kilometer) track and was the series’ inaugural running of this event. The facility playing host, Sonoma Raceway, is characterized by 12 turns and a total elevation change of 160 feet (49 meters) as it’s located on hilly ground. From the race going green to the checkered flag waving, Smith and the Xfinity field covered 156 miles (251 kilometers) on their quest to be the driver on the podium’s top step.
On Saturday morning the Kaulig Racing driver qualified in P20 ahead of the Door Dash 250 set to take place later in the day. Early in the race, Smith found the challenge of maintaining lateral grip and rear drive yet dug deep to find himself in P15 by the end of the race’s first stage. Timing is everything, and in this case, the instance of a caution period afforded the pit crew an opportunity to aim toward a better handling car for the young driver. The adjustments seemed to be successful as Smith picked off cars in front of him, aiming to climb as high as possible through the field. The end of stage two found him in P12, running in a consistent and clean manner despite the track’s bumpy nature, which flowed into his third-stage laps. The final stage of the race carried with it several caution periods which touted hectic restarts across the field, with Smith being forced out of position. Upon the end of the final lap, he crossed the line classified in P14, having fought from race start to race end.
Smith will hit the track again with NASCAR Xfinity two weeks from now in Nashville, Tennessee at the Nashville Superspeedway (24 June 2023).