Chandler Smith scored his first career win in the ARCA Racing Series last Friday at Madison International Speedway (WI), in just his fourth start in the series. Still, the victory felt like pulling a monkey from his back.
Smith has been competitive every time he has strapped into his Venturini Motorsports entry this season. The Madison race marked the fourth race in as many tries Smith started from the pole position. On Friday, he was able to seal the deal and take home the checkered flag.
“It was really good, we got the monkey off our back,” Smith told Speed51.com. “I can’t thank Venturini Motorsports enough for all the time they’ve put into my racing this year. I can’t thank my mom and dad enough for everything they’ve done for me.”
Smith had been on the cusp of victory earlier in the season, most notably at Salem Speedway (IN) in April. Smith battled with eventual winner Christian Eckes in the closing laps until a flat tire on the final circuit sent Smith into the wall.
Now, Smith can say he is a winner on the ARCA Racing Series, not just a competitor.
“It’s definitely feels a lot better now that I’ve got a win picked up.”
This weekend, Smith returns to Super Late Model racing. While his time in the Super Late Model has been limited while running a part-time ARCA schedule, he is excited to climb back into that more familiar cockpit for Friday’s Blizzard 125 at Five Flags Speedway (FL).
Earlier this season, Smith picked up another big win in the Super Late Models, scoring the victory in the ARCA/CRA Super Series’ Speedfest 200 at Watermelon Capital Speedway (GA). Smith hopes to add to that tally this weekend.
“I haven’t raced my Super Late Model in forever, but I know Ricky Turner has a good Toyota lined up for us. I can’t wait to get back to Super Late Model racing.”
While the ARCA win gives Smith some confidence heading into the weekend, only so much of that performance can carry over to this weekend on the Gulf Coast.
“It gives me some confidence, but it’s a totally different car and different atmosphere,” Smith said. “I’m ready to go, though.”
Smith has seen considerable success over the years at Five Flags Speedway. He holds a pair of top-10 finishes in the Snowball Derby and finished third in the first race of the Blizzard Series earlier this season.
In that race, Smith led the most laps, but lost out on late-race restarts to Bubba Pollard. Pollard has been dominant in the Blizzard Series – and in 2018, including a remarkable run two weekends ago with two wins and a second in three big-money races.
Nonetheless, Smith is confident he has the car to challenge Pollard and the rest of the Southern Super Series for the win Friday.
“We were a little off on the car last time,” Smith said. “We dominated the race but had a late-race caution. If it weren’t for the caution, we would have won that race I believe.
“But we had some stuff to work on,” Smith added. “If we take care of that, we should be in good shape.”
Race fans can watch Friday’s Southern Super Series/Blizzard Series event at Five Flags Speedway live on Speed51 TV. Click here to purchase your pay-per-view ticket now.
-By Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: ARCA