Chandler Smith’s speed shines in the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race Weekend despite a race cut short
Step One Motorsports ambassador Chandler Smith took part in a new-to-him venture over the weekend, known as the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star race. Located at the 76-year-old North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Carolina, the All-Star race format is unique to other race weekends. Firstly, though, here’s what you need to know about the short oval race track: it is less than one mile long, clocking in at 0.625 miles (1.006 kilometers) long with 14-degree banking along the turns and 3-degree baking on the straights. It’s also recognized for its front stretch that goes uphill and back stretch that goes downhill. Switching back to the weekend format, drivers that did not automatically qualify for the All-Star as Cup Series champions, recent race winners or past All-Star race winners, or in Saturday’s heat races, qualify in a pitstop challenge alongside their pit crews. Sunday features an Open Race for those attempting to snatch a position in the main All-Star race, where the top two secure a spot automatically and a third secures a spot based on the highest number of fan votes. Given the odds, it may seem daunting to some, but Smith did not back down from the challenge.
Sunday’s Open Race kicked off with Smith starting from P13. Within just six laps of green flag racing the Kaulig Racing driver had moved forward six positions and was on a charge through the field. Smith dove into the pits just before the midpoint of the race, opting to receive four fresh tires and fuel before continuing on his way. Unfortunately, a large wreck occurred almost immediately afterward ahead of Smith, and he was caught up in it, ending his race prematurely. It was certainly a shame for the driver of the No. 13 Chevy, given his immense pace in the laps preceding the incident. Nonetheless, the race was yet another demonstration of the young driver’s enormous speed in his back pocket that will surely only continue and increase in the season ahead.
Smith’s racing season takes its next step to Concord, North Carolina’s Charlotte Motor Speedway (26-27 May 2023) where he’ll be back in the seat of his No. 16 Chevy with NASCAR Xfinity.