Chandler Smith earned his third career victory on Sunday (May 19) at Toledo Speedway.
The 16-year old took the lead from Michael Self on lap 14 and held off challenges from Self and Ty Gibbs. Smith had to hold off Gibbs as the laps wound down, but in the long run, time ran out for Gibbs, as rain fell from the sky at lap 150. As the rain continued to intensify, ARCA ultimately made the call to declare the Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 official, giving Smith his first victory of 2019.
Self, who was looking for retribution from his accident at Nashville, started the race from the pole while Smith started second. Smith led the way in practice and showed he had the speed to win the race. As the laps started to click away, Smith began chopping at Self’s heels. Self was able to hold him off for a limited time using lap traffic to his advantage.
After continuously pushing Self to the limit, Smith stole the lead. When Smith took the lead, Gibbs followed, taking second away from Self. Both Smith and Gibbs began breaking away from the field where they would take the spotlight.
On lap 30, the caution would come out with a crash involving Joe Graf Jr., Hailie Deegan, and Tanner Gray. Deegan, making her series debut, nipped the corner of Graf and with Gray right behind, there was nowhere for Deegan to go. Graf spun up the track hitting the foam barriers, as Deegan lightly hit the No. 77. Both Deegan and Graf would be out of the race — Deegan finishing last in her series debut.
The field would go back to green at lap 36 with Smith jumping out to the lead. Smith began racing his own race putting a good 20 car lengths on second place Gibbs. The No. 20 car would continue putting on a show lapping cars and continuing to run away from the No. 18 of Gibbs until a caution came out on lap 78 with points leader Travis Braden nailing the foam barriers in Turn 1, resulting in a 13th-place finish.
As the green flag was displayed, Smith took off with the lead again opening up a good 20 car lengths lead over teammate Eckes. Alex Clubb would hit a piece of debris piercing a hole in the radiator but the race would continue under green. Meanwhile, Gibbs would pass Eckes and start making strides toward the lead. As the race reached halfway point, Gibbs had caught up with Smith setting up a battle for the win.
Two cautions for rain later, Smith would cross the line with the yellow and checkers, earning Venturini Motorsports’ fifth victory of 2019.
With Selfs fourth-place finish, he retakes the points lead by 25 markers over Braden. Eckes moves up to fourth after Graf’s accident with Deegan, remaining 95 points out of the lead as the series heads to the Charlotte Motor Speedway for round seven of the 2019 season.
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