With a late-race pass for the lead, rookie sensation Chandler Smith took home the ARCA Menards Series win at Lucas Oil Raceway after the rain started falling on Lap 162. The field made a few more pace laps before coming down pit road on Lap 168. After waiting a few more moments, ARCA Menards Series officials had no other choice than to call the race early, giving Smith the win.
“It was meant to be,” Smith said as he celebrated in victory lane. “We couldn’t have timed that pass out any better than we did.”
It wasn’t all about Chandler Smith though. Another rookie, Ty Gibbs, was back for his 11th and final race of the season. It was also a day past Gibbs 17th birthday and he sat the No. 18 Monster Energy Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota on the pole for the second time in his ARCA career.
With showers in the area, the race was moved up prior to its original starting time in hopes of beating the rain to complete the 200 lap race.
As soon as the race began, Gibbs took off and was the dominant car early on. In fact, he led every lap and held the lead despite a few cautions that slowed the pace until Gibbs became the caution. On Lap 142, the No. 77 of Joe Graf Jr. made contact with Ty Gibbs, sending him up the wall and ending his night early.
“I don’t even know who that guy is or what happened out there,” Gibbs said. “We had a really great car. I am pretty bummed. Most of all I am sorry for my guys, the deserved a win here tonight.”
When the race went back green on Lap 151, Christian Eckes, who is chasing the championship, made a dive bomb move to take the lead. Eckes led until Lap 159, where his other teammate Smith got side-by-side with him and took the lead. Just as Smith took the lead, the sky started to open up with rain sprinkles falling from the sky.
The yellow eventually came out due to rain on Lap 162. Just a few laps later, the cars came down pit road to sit under a red flag before officials called the race early due to heavy rains, leaving Chandler Smith to earn his fifth win of the 2019 season.
The race was slowed four times to yellow. The first caution flew on Lap 53 for the No. 5 of Bobby Gerhart, who went spinning around on the backstretch. The second caution came out on Lap 98 for the No. 11 of Dick Doheny who crashed in Turn 2. A third caution came on Lap 145 for the Ty Gibbs and Joe Graf Jr. accident. The final caution was seen on Lap 162 for rain before the race was called.
By finishing second, Eckes wound up winning the Short Track Championship and is heading to the season finale at Kansas with a 20 plus point lead advantage over his teammate Michael Self.
“We’re obviously disappointed with second,” Eckes said, “but it’s our sixth top-two finish in a row. We really have things turned around after a tough stretch in the summer. We’d have liked to have had that caution for rain a few laps earlier though.”
There were four cautions for 25 laps and three lead changes among four drivers.
- Chandler Smith
- Christian Eckes
- Sam Mayer
- Corey Heim
- Hailie Deegan
- Michael Self
- Travis Braden
- Bret Holmes
- Carson Hocevar
- Joe Graf Jr.
- Bobby Gerhart, two laps down
- Tommy Vigh Jr., nine laps down
- Mike Basham, 10 laps down
- Scott Melton, 10 laps down
- Ty Gibbs, OUT, Accident
- Howie DiSavino III, OUT, Electrical
- Tim Richmond, OUT, Brakes
- Dick Doheny, OUT, Accident
- Brad Smith, OUT, Clutch
- Eric Caudell, OUT, Radiator
- Darrell Basham, OUT
- Benjamin Peterson, DNS
Up Next: The ARCA Menards Series now heads to Kansas Speedway in two weeks time for their championship season finale race on Friday night Oct 18 live on Fox Sports 2.