Turning 18 is one of the major benchmark holidays in any young person’s life. It usually means they are about done with high school. At the very least they are an adult now.
But, if you’re Chandler Smith, that day couldn’t come soon enough.
Chandler Smith just waiting in the wings for 18th Birthday
Smith is a booming up-and-comer in the developmental stages of his promising NASCAR career, competing in the ARCA Menards Series and Gander Outdoors Truck Series on a part time basis for the 2019 season.
Despite only competing in eight of the 14 ARCA races this season, Smith had led the most laps among anyone in the series. He’s also come home with four victories as well as seven top-five finishes.
“I’m just thankful for it,” Smith said. “I’ve got good people behind me. I’ve got good teams in Kyle Busch Motorsports and Venturini Motorsports giving me tremendous cars and trucks. They’re the ones that got me to where I am now.”
The 17-year old is extremely talented.
So why can’t he get the full-time shot?
Per NASCAR’s rules, only can 18-year-old racers are permitted to drive on tracks larger than a mile in length.
That means it’s short tracks only for Smith until he turns 18 next season on June 22.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” Smith said.
There’s no cutoff date that happens before the season.
There’s no exceptions, at least at tracks owned by NASCAR.
“I think it should come before the season,” Smith said. “I think, in my circumstance, if [a driver] is having a good enough season the [year] before, why not just give them a shot at it.”
Unless something changes, Smith won’t be allowed on the larger tracks until midway through the 2020 season.
That makes putting together future deals a bit complicated, but Smith assured that big news is in the works.
“It’s always a struggle considering I’m not 18 when it comes to contract stuff like that,” Smith said. “We’ll definitely be seeing some big moves [when I turn 18].”
There’s a slight exception in NASCAR’s rules, however, that was foreshadowed earlier.
NASCAR doesn’t own Pocono’s racetrack, so when the ARCA Series visits the three-turn, 2.5 mile triangle, Smith will be allowed to run since he reaches their 17-year-old requirement.
He’ll be back in the car on Friday during the ARCA series date – running once again for Venturini Motorsports.
The team has secured pole position starts in 13 of the 14 races this season and looks to keep the trend going on Friday Morning (Qualfying starts at 12:35 p.m. CT)
“Venturini Motorsports puts out such good race cars,” Smith said last week after winning the pole at Iowa Speedway. “You’ve got to come to the race track with good enough cars to get these poles. It just shows how much as an organization they’re doing, and how much work they’re putting into these cars. It has definitely showed all season.”
Smith will once again run the No. 20 for the team in the race, which is scheduled to start at 3:00 p.m. CT at Pocono. The race will be televised by Fox Sports 1.
“It is what it is,” Smith said. “You can complain all day about it, but it’s not going to change anything.”
Smith will keep grinding, and he’s got two more truck opportunities scheduled with KBM at Bristol (August 15) and Phoenix (November 8) later this year.