Chandler Smith Dominates Valvoline Lap Leader Award

Chandler Smith Dominates Valvoline Lap Leader Award

Despite running a very limited schedule in 2018, sixteen-year-old Chandler Smith (No. 20 Craftsman/Smith General Contractors Toyota) dominated the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Valvoline Lap Leader Award standings.

Smith, from Talking Rock, Georgia, joined the Venturini Motorsports team after a successful run in super late models across the southeast and Midwest. Due to his youth, he is not yet eligible to compete on tracks larger than one mile. He entered nine ARCA Racing Series events - all of the paved short track races - and quickly proved to be one of the drivers to beat on the tracks under one mile.

Smith was fast for one lap right away. He set a modern era ARCA record by starting from the pole in each of his first four series starts at Nashville, Salem, Toledo, and Madison. But more importantly, he backed up those starting positions with impressive performances in the races.

He finished fifth in his debut at Nashville, leading 51 laps along the way. He challenged teammate and eventual Salem winner Christian Eckes throughout the day, leading 117 laps before a tire failure on the final lap sent him into the turn one wall while fighting for the win on the final lap. He led 97 laps on his way to a fourth-place finish at Toledo before dominating at Madison, leading 102 laps from the pole and picking up his first series win in just his fourth start.

He also dominated at Elko, leading 160 of the race's 250 laps before finishing sixth. He led 37 laps at Berlin before he was bounced out of the lead coming to complete lap 199, eventually finishing seventh. He again had the dominant car at Salem, leading 199 of the race's 200 laps en route to his second win of the season.

All told, he led 763 laps in his nine starts, 299 laps more than 2018 ARCA Racing Series champion Sheldon Creed led throughout the entirety of the season. Smith's laps led margin was so dominant that he mathematically locked up the award after three laps of the event at Lucas Oil Raceway, when there were only 298 laps yet to be run throughout the remainder of the season.

Christian Eckes, Smith's Venturini Motorsports teammate, was third in the final standings with 421 laps led, series runner-up Zane Smith was fourth with 391 laps at the front of the field, and Michael Self rounded out the top five with 164 laps led.

Smith will be honored for winning the 2018 Valvoline Lap Leader Award at the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Awards Banquet on Saturday night, December 8, held in conjunction with the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show, at the Indiana State Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis.

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