Chandler Smith powers through to next round of Playoffs with Bristol victory

In a must-win situation, 19-year-old Chandler Smith made a power move on Sheldon Creed with three laps to go, moving Creed out of the way. He hung on to win the Camping World Truck Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway and locked the No. 18 team into the Playoffs Round of 6.

“All week, I’ve been talking about 2019 when I finished second to Brett Moffitt and what I would have done different to win that race and these things are so hard now to win,” Smith said about the victory. “I haven’t done anything different since 2019. I’ve been doing a lot of sim time and watching film to get this win. My faith has been tested plenty of times.”

Creed, who was dominant most of the night, led a race-high 189 laps before spinning with three laps to go due to a left-rear tire. He finished in the 19th spot, two laps down.

“I knew I was going to get hit at some point, but it hurts nonetheless,” Creed said. “We’ve had three really fast trucks to open up the Playoffs and and it’s been really fun to go out there and dominate races. I’m having a lot of fun right now and I’m looking forward to heading to Vegas and setting our team up to make it to Phoenix.”

Bristol Motor Speedway served as the final race in the Round of 8 Thursday night. Already a two-time winner in the playoffs, Creed was on the pole due to the qualifying metric system. Stages of 55/55/90 made up the 200-lap race in what would be a wild night of action.

In the first stage, the caution was flown as early as Lap 3 for the No. 32 of Sam Mayer and the No. 3 of Howie DiSavino III for spinning in Turns 1 and 2. Following the accident, there were two more yellow flags, one at Lap 22 for Tanner Gray and on Lap 49 for Spencer Boyd. Prior to the Lap 49 caution, Smith was concerned as he had a left-front tire rub after making contact with another playoff driver, Todd Gilliland.

With a one-lap dash set up for the first stage, Creed and Matt Crafton were on the front row, but Creed took off first with the faster truck and went on to take the first stage win. Austin Hill, Crafton, Zane Smith, Grant Enfinger, Carson Hocevar, Stewart Friesen, Todd Gilliland, Tyler Ankrum and Johnny Sauter rounded out the Top 10.

Stage 2 began on Lap 66 and was one of the calmer stages of the night. There was only one yellow flag that slowed the field on Lap 70 when the No. 51 of Drew Dollar spun on the backstretch and collected Tate Fogleman, Dawson Cram, Howie DiSavino and Danny Bohn. The caution prompted the first red flag of the night, lasting six minutes and 23 seconds in length.

Despite the red flag stoppage, Creed was once again dominant, and collected another stage victory. Ankrum, Austin Hill, Zane Smith, Chandler Smith, Nemechek, Friesen, Enfinger, Parker Kligerman and Crafton completed the Top 10. During the stage break caution, Zane Smith was penalized for throwing a fuel can, while Ankrum and Austin Hill were penalized for being too fast on pit road.

The third and final stage had five cautions and the second red flag of the night. Most notably, when the fourth yellow came out with 11 to go, playoff contender, Austin Hill, came down on the No. 25 of Josh Berry on the frontstretch and wrecked in Turn 1. Hill then went up the track and collected Hailie Deegan, Derek Kraus, Lawless Alan and Austin Wayne Self.

The major accident brought out the second red flag of the race and the field was halted for seven minutes and 37 seconds. Unfortunately, for the Georgia native Austin Hill, his playoff chances came to a close as he was eliminated from the next round.

The final restart came with five laps to go with Creed and Chandler Smith on the front row. Smith’s teammate Nemechek was close behind in third. As both Creed and Smith fired off, the two raced side-by-side before Smith got the better of Creed by moving him up the track.

Creed went high on the outside and fell back in the running order and eventually made contact with another driver and spun due to a left-rear flat tire.

Even though Creed spun, no caution was called and Chandler Smith drove away with the victory. Enfinger, John Hunter Nemechek, Friesen, Sauter, Hocevar, Crafton, Zane Smith, Ben Rhodes, and Gilliland completed the top 10 finishers.

Despite their best efforts, Austin Hill and Gilliland were eliminated from the Playoffs. Gilliland missed the next round by just two points.

Smith led one time for five laps and gained five playoff points.

There were 11 cautions for 85 laps and three lead changes among three different leaders.

Playoff Standings for the Round of 8 beginning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway:

  1. John Hunter Nemechek, +44
  2. Sheldon Creed, +20
  3. Ben Rhodes, +13
  4. Zane Smith, +3
    Below the cut line
  5. Chandler Smith, -3
  6. Matt Crafton, -5
  7. Carson Hocevar, -7
  8. Stewart Friesen, -8

Official Results following the UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway:

  1. Chandler Smith, led five laps
  2. Grant Enfinger
  3. John Hunter Nemechek
  4. Stewart Friesen
  5. Johnny Sauter
  6. Carson Hocevar, led six laps
  7. Matt Crafton
  8. Zane Smith
  9. Ben Rhodes
  10. Todd Gilliland
  11. Josh Berry
  12. Doug Coby
  13. Derek Kraus
  14. Austin Wayne Self
  15. Colby Howard
  16. Ryan Truex
  17. Timmy Hill
  18. Lawless Alan
  19. Sheldon Creed, won both stages, led 189 laps, 2 laps down
  20. Cory Roper, 2 laps down
  21. Parker Kligerman, 3 laps down
  22. Sam Mayer, 7 laps down
  23. Clay Greenfield, 7 laps down
  24. Austin Hill, OUT, Accident
  25. Hailie Deegan, OUT, Accident
  26. CJ McLaughlin, 12 laps down
  27. Jennifer Jo Cobb, 12 laps down
  28. Howie DiSavino III, OUT, Electrical
  29. Taylor Gray, OUT, Accident
  30. Chase Purdy, OUT, Accident
  31. Spencer Boyd, OUT, Overheating
  32. Tyler Ankrum, OUT, Accident
  33. Danny Bohn, OUT, Accident
  34. Drew Dollar, OUT, Accident
  35. Dawson Cram, OUT, Accident
  36. Kris Wright, OUT, Engine
  37. Tate Fogleman, OUT, Accident
  38. Tanner Gray, OUT, Accident
  39. Ray Ciccarelli, OUT, Rear Gear
  40. Josh Reaume, OUT, Accident

Up Next: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will head west to begin the Round of 8 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Friday night, September 24, live on Fox Sports 1 at 9 p.m. ET with radio coverage on MRN Radio.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

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