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This Is Just the Beginning for Chandler Smith

Nascar Xfinity Series driver Chandler Smith, NKP

“The ceiling is the roof.”

If you are a University of North Carolina basketball fan (or if you were a Duke fan on that unfortunate night for the Blue Devils) you might remember Michael Jordan giving the UNC football team this adage during halftime of the 2017 UNC-Duke game.

As head-scratching as it was at the time, he was on the right track.

Jordan is the co-owner of 23XI racing, one of three Toyota teams in the NASCAR Cup Series. And in Toyota’s pipeline, there lies a star who would fall under the umbrella of Jordan’s phrase.

That would be Chandler Smith, who is in his second NASCAR Xfinity Series season and first with Joe Gibbs Racing.

The 21-year-old is coming off his second win in three weeks after triumphing in the ToyotaCare 250, which was also just the sixth race on the young season. After leading 16 laps previously, he took the lead with 60 laps to go, never looking back en route to a margin of victory of nearly 4.5-seconds over Aric Almirola.

Through those six events, Smith is batting 1.000 on top 10s, finishing no worse than eighth. He has also secured five top fives, with both the top five and top 10 stats tying Austin Hill for the most in the series. Additionally, he has led 239 laps already after leading a total of 318 in 2023.

The point being made here is Smith is good … really good.

Of course, that has been no secret since his first full-time season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2021. Between 2021 and 2022 with Kyle Busch Motorsports, Smith won five races and qualified for the Championship 4 in 2022.

When KBM switched to Chevrolet from Toyota last season, Smith took his talents to Kaulig Racing, a team who had stacked their trophy case in the series before then. However, the team’s veteran driver AJ Allmendinger had moved up to the NASCAR Cup Series, leaving the Xfinity program at a bit of a crossroads.

Despite this, it didn’t take long for Smith to look like he belonged. He got his first win in the seventh race of the season at none other than Richmond, leading a dominant 83 laps that day.

That win propelled Smith to a stout rookie season, and it unearthed a quality that makes him one of the top prospects in NASCAR: competing with veteran teammates.

At Kaulig, Smith was teammates with 2021 series champion Daniel Hemric, who is in one of Kaulig’s Cup cars. While Hemric matched or bested Smith on several statistics, the key ones went in Smith’s favor. He…

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