CONCORD, NC – JULY 17, 2019: The heat will be turned up going into the ARCA Menards Series return to Iowa Speedway for Friday night’s Fans with Benefits 150. Bringing some heat of his own is last week’s race winner Chandler Smith (N0.20 Craftsman Toyota) and his series’ leading owner points Venturini Motorsports Twenty-Toyota team.
Smith, 17, enters Iowa on a hot streak coming into action winner of three consecutive series short track events dating back to May’s race at Toledo Speedway. The talented Talking Rock, GA teenager continues to build an impressive resume just 16 races into his ARCA career. Already a five-time tour winner and seven-time General Tire Pole Award recipient, Smith enters his seventh start of the season poised for more success.
Smith has already led 518 laps on the season, leading the series’ overall Valvoline Lap Leader standings despite only competing in seven of the 13 races the series has held coming into Iowa. He also leads this year’s Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge with 1105 points, 55 more than series competitor Ty Gibbs.The Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge is a championship-within-a-championship offering drivers that cannot compete on the superspeedways due to age restrictions a chance at racing for a championship.
Friday’s competition will mark Smith’s second attempt at Iowa in an ARCA car. He finished second in last year’s race. Earlier in the year he visited Iowa’s 7/8-mile track with the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Series finishing eighth after starting from the pole position.
“This is a short track but it’s a big short track,” Smith said. “The biggest thing I will take back is how much I moved around the racetrack and all of the grooves. It’s a fast track and aerodynamics are important. I learned some things in the Truck race and I will be able to play around with some aero as well.”
Despite the track’s larger-than-most-other-short tracks size, it still has a lot of the same characteristics as the third-miles and half-miles that are where most stock car drivers get their start in racing.
“Iowa drives just like a short track does,” he said. “A place like Gateway, that’s nothing at all like a short track. You need a really wide arc getting into turn one at Iowa. Then you’re back on the throttle really fast. That’s why I was so successful in the Truck earlier this season. It fits my short track background really well. It has a lot of short track mentality to it. It’s a mixture between an intermediate and a short track with sweeping corners and you move around a lot. Especially in turns three and four. You can really carry a lot of speed through there.”
Smith will join VMS teammates Michael Self, Christian Eckes and Gavin Harlien in Iowa. VMS has dominated series competition thus far winning eight of the first thirteen events in 2019. Fast to start each race, VMS has claimed an unprecedented 12 General Tire Pole Awards to start the season missing out on the honors during the third race of the season at Salem Speedway,
Practice at Iowa Speedway is scheduled for 12:45 pm ET/11:45 am CT with General Tire Pole Qualifying to follow at 4:45 pm ET/3:45 pm CT and the Fans with Benefits 150 to close the night at 9 pm ET/8 pm CT. The race will be televised live flag to flag on MAVTV.