Since being picked number one in the Speed51 Short Track Draft last April, Chandler Smith has continued to back up his selection with his on track success in the ARCA Menards Series with Venturini Motorsports. After five ARCA short track wins in 2019, Smith went to Phoenix Raceway (AZ) on Friday night and continued the success with his first victory of the 2020 season.
The win is also significant, as it gives Smith the advantage in the ARCA Menards Series Sioux Chief Showdown, a 10-race portion of non-superspeedways which counts towards the title within the series.
“It was a big win for myself and it was also a big win for Venturini Motorsports considering it was their first time out west," Smith said. "That was also the first time I had seen Phoenix Raceway. I thought it was a pretty cool deal. Billy and everyone were so excited about it, Big Bill was ecstatic. I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason, I learned so much just from how ill driving the race car was Friday night, but I learned with the PJ1 and moving around. I was in the right spot at the end of the race, and we brought it home.”
The victory was Smith's sixth win since the 2019 Short Track Draft. Despite the Georgia driver already recording success with Venturini Motorsports in ARCA prior to that time, Smith was very vocal about how much impact the selection has had on his career.
“For sure, I remember having a conversation with my dad when I was 23rd in the Short Track Draft, wondering if I would ever make it to P1 one of these days. But it is so cool, you got all these big names like Christopher Bell, Harrison Burton, all of those guys have been number one in the Short Track Draft. When I ended up seeing that I was selected as number one I was like, ‘Oh crap, I must be doing something right’. It was a big deal for me going forward as far as getting exposure and getting my name out a little more.”
Approaching the 2020 Short Track Draft, Smith does have one final duty as the 2019 No. 1 pick: filling out a ballot of his own that will be used to help determine the results of the 2020 Short Track Draft. He gave some insight into what kind of drivers might be on his ballot.
“I’m looking forward to that, there’s some young talent out there that’s brewing and getting experience. All of the drivers that I’ve been keeping an eye on are at that stage where if they’re going to learn it, they’re going to learn it in the next few months. If they’re not, it’s going to be one of those things where it’s just hit and miss. I’m still watching them and also learning from them, seeing where they take their learning curve for their racing. In that age, development is key when you get to 15 or 16 years old, you need the right people, development is key in that area if you ask me.”
As for his schedule beyond the ARCA Menards Series, that’s currently up in the air, but Smith is confident he’ll be back in a Super Late Model before too long.
"I couldn’t answer that question right now, because even I don’t know that for sure. But, we’re going to be running some Super Late Model races this year. I love racing Supers, they’re the most fun cars I’ve ever driven in my life to be completely honest. You can learn so much from driving them."
Be sure to stay with Speed51.com in the days and weeks to come about what Smith's racing schedule will look like. To watch his entire interview on Monday's episode of "The Bullring," click here.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor - Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51