Future Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series prospect Chandler Smith completely dominated the Shore Lunch 200 at Madison International Speedway located in Oregon, Wisconsin. Smith started on the pole and never looked back, winning his second straight victory in the ARCA Menards Series.
“Ah yeah, man,” Smith told MAVTV in his post-race interview. “I can’t thank these Venturini Motorsports guys enough, Craftsman, A2A Logistics. These guys behind me (pit crew) put on a heck of a job today. I had to put it all together there at the end of the race and it came to the final restart, guys were spinning tires and that’s why we’re sitting in victory lane right now. Hats off to all these guys, they needed this, we’re going to party hard tonight!”
It wasn’t as easy as it looked for Smith and his No. 20 Venturini Motorsports team.
The first caution of the night came out on Lap 112 when Sam Mayer and Corey Heim made contact with each other. Heim, unfortunately, got the worst of it as he went up into the entry of Turn 3, taking him out of contention for the win.
Another incident arose on Lap 124 for Heim’s teammate, Joe Graf Jr. had a left front and right front tire go down courtesy of Mayer again, due to reports. Graf Jr. would end up bringing out the caution once more.
Smith led all the way until Lap 151 when Ty Gibbs took the lead for the first lead change of the night. As Gibbs passed Smith, the sky opened up and a light shower passed over the track. ARCA officials red-flagged the race on Lap 162 for approximately 17 minutes.
Before the red flag, Smith, who had completely dominated the first half of the race, pitted and fell back in the running order in a change of strategy. If the race had continued under green the other lead lap cars would have to come down pit road to make their pit stops and it would have put Smith out front again.
When the race restarted the rest of the field, including Gibbs, Christian Eckes, Carson Hocevar, Michael Self, Hailie Deegan, Bret Holmes and Travis Braden all had to pit.
Right before the restart, ARCA officials penalized the 18 of Gibbs, the 15 of Eckes, the 55 of Deegan and the 23 of Holmes for running the stop sign at the end of pit road. They would have to restart in the back of the pack to serve the penalty.
After the restart, last week’s winner at Michigan, Self, took the lead from his teammate Smith on Lap 169.
There were intense short track racing battles going on for the top spot as Self, Smith and Eckes, as well as Gibbs, were all trying to hang on to and keep their cars from wrecking. Unfortunately, Eckes got the short end and wound up spinning out on the frontstretch while battling for the lead with Self and brought out the caution once more on Lap 181.
Another incident took place for Deegan whose motor expired with 10 laps to go. This would be a major turning in the point in the race, as Smith would regain the lead.
The ARCA officials would fly the red flag again due to track clean up from the oil that was laid down by Deegan’s car and to make sure the race had a green flag finish.
The final restart came with five laps to go with Smith on the front row. Before Smith would go on to take his second checkered flag of the year, Gibbs received a black flag for changing lanes on the restart and had to serve a drive-through penalty.
Smith went on to win for the second consecutive time at Madison.
“Yeah, we just over adjusted a little bit on our first initial pit stop when we came and got four tires,” Smith added in his post race interview with MAVTV. “So, we went in and we got two tires, and it went back to how we were, and that’s why we’re sitting back in victory lane.”
While Smith would win for the second time this year, last week’s Michigan winner and his teammate Michael Self had to settle for a second place finish after leading a few laps.
“It’s kind of how he’s (Chandler Smith) been this year,” Self said in his post-race interview with MAVTV in regards to the pass for the lead late. “You know what, Chandler is a good racer man, he’s really fast. I’m actually really excited to watch him go run that truck in Iowa tomorrow, that’s going to be really cool for him. Like, a little bit more respect maybe, blasting me into the corner. I tell guys all the time, I respect the guy who wins, I still am that guy sometimes.”
“Today was going to be a horrible day for me, I thought. We were no good in practice, didn’t qualify great, fell outside the top-10 in the early stages of the race. Props to Shannon (Rursch, Crew Chief) and all these guys on the No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota. We were a really good long run car. I mean we probably had the best car here after 50 or 75 laps, but unfortunately we had that one long green flag stint and we didn’t get many after that. Too much tight racing there at the end. The reason I like racing big tracks is because we get single file, there’s no one around you, I’m kind of old and that’s kind of stressful. I like to be single file out there, do my own thing, not tight racing like this.”
GMS Racing developmental driver and breakout star Sam Mayer rounded out the top three finishers with third place after starting sixth.
“Early on, we were really really free, everywhere really,” Mayer said in his post race interview with MAVTV. “We came in, tightened it up and that seemed to help the car a little bit. We were just waiting patiently about mid-pack. Waiting for something like this to happen, where we had a late race caution with short ten laps to go, we were able to somehow fight in to the top three, which is pretty awesome! Everyone at Driver’s Edge Development Chevrolet, Chevrolet Accessories, GMS Racing especially, helping me out by giving me the best car possible and glad we could get a top three out of it.”
Smith started on the pole and finished first, and led three times for 166 laps. This is Smith’s third ARCA win of his young career and Venturini Motorsports’ seventh win of the season as a team.
The Shore Lunch 200 saw five cautions flags and two red flags (one for rain, the other for clean up from Hailie Deegan’s car).
- Chandler Smith
- Michael Self, 1.422 seconds
- Sam Mayer, 2.408 seconds
- Travis Braden, 2.66 seconds
- Bret Holmes, 2.726 seconds
- Carson Hocevar, 3.895 seconds
- Christian Eckes, 12.771 seconds
- Ty Gibbs, 16.313 seconds
- Joe Graf Jr, Two laps down
- Corey Heim, Five laps down
- Tommy Vigh Jr, Seven laps down
- Hailie Deegan, OUT
- Eric Caudell, 13 laps down
- Tim Richmond, 17 laps down
- Brad Smith, OUT
- Dick Karth, OUT
- Dick Doheny, OUT
- Dale Shearer, OUT
Up Next: The ARCA Menards Series continues their weekly racing by heading south to St. Louis, Missouri next week for race No. 11 at the newly named World Wide Technology Raceway, formerly known as Gateway Motorsports Park.