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Chandler Smith Hopes to Carry Momentum Into Martinsville

Chandler Smith

Chandler Smith heads out for NASCAR Xfinity Series practice at Martinsville Speedway. (Photo: Wayne Riegle | The Podium Finish)

RIDGEWAY, Va. — So far, Chandler Smith’s flip to Joe Gibbs Racing has gone to perfection.

Through six races, the 21-year-old from Talking Rock, Georgia, already has a pair of victories — both coming in the last three races. But just as importantly, both of those victories are on short tracks: Phoenix Raceway and Richmond Raceway last week. He leads driver’s points over Austin Hill, who won the first two races of the season, by 10.

So heading into another short track at Martinsville Speedway, that could mean something for the second-year Xfinity Series driver, who’s eligible for the first Dash 4 Cash bonus of the season.

“With my experience at short-track racing, that is where I come from,” Smith said in a press conference on Friday. “That is what I grew up racing, and then being paired with a great team, a great organization and a great manufacturer – I think that is the recipe for success. I’m excited to be here at Martinsville Speedway. I’m excited to be eligible for Dash 4 Cash. Looking forward to seeing what we can do under the lights [Saturday] night.”

Smith, who grew up as part of Toyota Racing Development, jumped over to Kaulig Racing in 2023 for his inaugural Xfinity season. He won at Richmond early but limped through the summer, finishing outside the top 20 in seven of eight races at one point. He advanced to the semifinal round of the Playoffs but got eliminated after DNFs in the final two Round of 8 races.

In 2024, Smith jumped back to Toyota and joined JGR — piloting the No. 81 Toyota GR Supra full-time. He opened up with top fives in each of the first three races before securing his second career victory at Phoenix. After an off-week, he finished eighth at Circuit of the Americas before leading 76 laps last week en route to victory.

Though he joined a brand new organization, Smith said there wasn’t much of a transition process with crew chief Jeff Meendering and the team.

Chandler Smith

Chandler Smith walks pit road during NASCAR Xfinity Series qualifying at Richmond Raceway. (Photo: Daniel Rankin | The Podium Finish)

“We got to work right after Phoenix of last year and was in the simulator pretty much every single week – all the way up to Christmas,” Smith said. “We took a two-week break off and then was right back at it again. We’ve got as far as – we are from Texas all the way to Pocono on our sim stuff right now. We were ready. We were prepared for the season, and I think that is why the results have been there. We were so prepared for this season right off the rip.”

Before crashing at Martinsville last year, Smith finished 10th in the spring. In two Truck Series races, he’s finished no worse than sixth at the 0.526-mile paperclip.

Ultimately, the Xfinity Series points leader thinks Saturday’s DUDE Wipes 250 will play out similarly to last week at Richmond. But for him to have a similar result, Smith needs to find the balance he’s previously lacked.

“It’s similar to Richmond in that track position is big here. I feel like it is bigger here than Richmond, honestly, just because – if you have a bad pit stop, you could be running second, have a bad pit stop, and be running eighth to 10th,” he said. “Then you get hit the wrong way, get back in the hornets’ nest, that can ruin your day right there. Just haven’t really had the balance I’ve been looking for. Haven’t had the execution all day on my part – whatever it may have been. Looking to clean that up this year, and hopefully have a decent run.”

Smith had an issue early in practice Friday, locking his brakes and hitting the wall. He did not post a qualifying lap. The team will take the car back to JGR in Huntersville, North Carolina, for overnight repairs and Smith will start from the rear Saturday.

Smith will compete against Jesse Love, Aric Almirola and Parker Kligerman for the Dash 4 Cash bonus. The highest finisher of the four will take home $100,000. The 250-lapper is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.


Nathan Solomon serves as the managing editor of The Podium Finish. He has been part of the team since 2021 and is accredited by the National Motorsports Press Association. Solomon is a senior in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University. Contact him at

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