Chandler Smith races to first NASCAR Trucks Series victory

BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) — Chandler Smith took advantage of a late restart Thursday night at Bristol Motor Speedway for his first NASCAR Trucks Series victory and a spot in the second round of the playoffs.

The 19-year-old Georgia driver overtook defending series champion Sheldon Creed on a six-lap restart, with Creed and John Hunter Nemechek colliding while Smith put Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 18 Toyota out front for the first time.

“In 2019, I felt like I was really, really good. Nothing has changed about me, the competition has gotten a lot harder,” Smith said. “So had to go to work, do a lot more, more studying and it finally paid off. I’m so happy right now. It’s unbelievable.”

Smith advanced to the second round of eight drivers, with Todd Gilliland and Austin Hill eliminated.

Creed and Nemechek had already qualified for the next round. Matt Crafton, Stewart Friesen, Carson Hocevar, Ben Rhodes and Zane Smith also advanced.

Creed ended up 19th after leading 189 of the 200 laps on the half-mile oval. Grant Enfinger was second, followed by Nemechek, Friesen and Johnny Sauter.

Creed was looking to become the first series driver to sweep a playoff round. He opened the 10-driver playoffs with a victory Aug. 20 at Gateway and won his second in a row at Darlington on Sept. 5.

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