Chandler Misses Out on Title in NASCAR Truck Series Finale
Step One Motorsports ambassador Chandler Smith narrowly missed out on championship glory following a hard-fought 2022 NASCAR Truck Series finale at Phoenix Raceway.
Chandler booked his way into the Championship 4 alongside Ben Rhodes, Zane Smith, and Ty Majesky with a 10th-placed finish at Homestead and started 12th for the title decider.
The 20-year-old made progress throughout Stage One and after a brief caution period, caused by a collision for Armani Williams and Keith McGee, took eighth at the end of the opening third.
In the break between Stages One and Two, Chandler and his Kyle Busch Motorsports team opted to pit and rejoined the race fourth overall to gain four spots.
Chandler was locked in battle with team-mate John Hunter Nemechek initially, and after the pair traded places, he settled into a rhythm in fourth, but was still hot on the heels of the trucks ahead.
The native of Talking Rock, Georgia, next overtook Corey Heim to finish an uninterrupted Stage Two in third and again pitted in the break before Stage Three.
Chandler moved up to second on pit road, restarted the race on the front row, and jumped Nemechek for the lead, moments before another caution, caused by a spin for Christian Eckes.
The race was again resumed on lap 106 but was paused for the fifth time when Taylor Gray, Rajah Caruth, and Layne Riggs crashed in Turn Two.
After losing the lead to Nemechek in this short green flag run, Chandler re-passed the #4 Toyota on the next restart but, in turn, lost position to Zane Smith who snatched first.
Setting out in pursuit of his title rival, he continued to hold second until a puncture for Hailie Deegan caused another caution, in which Chandler decided to return to pit road.
He rejoined the race ninth overall and third in the title fight, with Rhodes running second, Majesky eighth, and Zane Smith 11th.
With the laps waning, Chandler battled back through the field but a crash for Majesky caused another stoppage and set up a two-lap run to the checkered flag.
Chandler entered NASCAR Overtime second and ran side-by-side with Zane Smith for the lead on the final restart and was looking to the low line when the white flag waved.
Rhodes, in turn, edged around the outside of Chandler on the final lap and pipped him to second, with Zane Smith winning the race to seal the championship.
“It just wasn’t meant to be,” said Chandler. “We gave it our best. Thank you to my amazing wife for being by my side through everything.
“Can’t thank everybody enough at Kyle Busch Motorsports, Safelite AutoGlass and Toyota Racing for everything they’ve done for me for the past six years. God has a plan for everything.”
In 2023, Chandler will step up to the NASCAR Xfinity Series on a full-time basis, in which he will drive the #16 Chevrolet Camaro for Kaulig Racing.
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