Many of NASCAR’s top stars and rising talent have spent time behind the wheel of a Kyle Busch Motorsports Super Late Model over the years. From Cup Series drivers Erik Jones and William Byron, to Xfinity and Truck Series drivers Christopher Bell, Noah Gragson, and Todd Gilliland, to most recently Raphael Lessard, KBM has become a gateway to the upper echelons of NASCAR for up-and-coming drivers.
Sixteen-year-old Chandler Smith, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes, will be the next driver to be given an opportunity behind the wheel of the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 as he attempts to make his Slinger Nationals debut at Slinger Super Speedway on Tuesday night.
Tuesday’s race will be the Georgia driver’s second start behind the wheel of a Super Late Model in 2019 after having competed at CRA SpeedFest back in January. However, that start came behind the wheel of his family-owned and Ricky Turner-maintained No. 26 Super Late Model.
Having the opportunity to compete in a Kyle Busch Motorsports Super Late Model has Smith pumped for Tuesday night’s Slinger Nationals. After Monday’s open practice, he feels like he will be capable of putting KBM in Slinger Nationals victory lane for the second time.
“Oh yeah, it’s awesome. These Rowdy chassis and KBM guys have done an awesome job,” Smith told Speed51.com. “These things are completely different than anything I’ve ever ran in my life. I think we’re pretty good, I’d say we’re a top five car. We just need to rub out the adjustments a little bit and I think we’ll be pretty good here.”
While it may be his first Super Late Model start with Kyle Busch Motorsports, he has already competed in two Truck Series races with the team this season, starting on the pole and finishing eighth at Iowa in his series debut and backing it up with a fourth-place finish the next week at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway after starting deep in the field. He feels his strong runs in the Trucks has him prepared for the Late Model.
“It’s been good, we’ve had good runs and all,” he said. “We just got to keep going after it and keep getting better, and hopefully we can get better finishes in that deal.”
With at least three other major Super Late Model races on his schedule for Kyle Busch Motorsports this year, he will have ample opportunity to prove himself as the next young superstar. However, he has a lot to live up to. Since 2010, Kyle Busch Motorsports has collected three Snowball Derbies and four Winchester 400 victories among other major wins, which includes a triumph at the 2011 Slinger Nationals.
When asked if there was any added pressure to racing in the KBM No.51, he was quick to answer.
“For sure, I mean Kyle (Busch) gets out here and whoops butt anytime he gets in this thing,” he stated. “If I get out here and I don’t do anything in it, it says a lot for me.”
With a strong car under him and a strong team behind him, Smith is confident he can get the job done in his first Slinger Nationals attempt Tuesday night. He only had one simple answer when asked what it would take to win one of the biggest Super Late Model races in the country.
“We just got to be there at the end.”
Race fans worldwide can watch the 40th Annual Slinger Nationals Tuesday night via a live pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51.com. Video tickets can be purchased for $24.99 by clicking here. A 100-mile blackout is in effect for the broadcast.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: Speed51.com