Brake Issue Stifles Chandler Smith Early At Martinsville


Chandler Smith (Jacob Seelman/Race Face Digital photo)

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Chandler Smith didn’t even get to lay down a representative lap time Friday at Martinsville Speedway before chaos struck in NASCAR Xfinity Series practice.

A brake issue sent Smith’s No. 81 Wheelers Toyota GR Supra sliding into the outside SAFER Barrier in turn one on the first green-flag lap of his 15-minute practice group, sending him back to the garage and leaving his Joe Gibbs Racing crew with a long night ahead of them.

The damage to the right side of Smith’s car meant he was unable to qualify ahead of Saturday’s DUDE Wipes 250 at the .526-mile paper clip.

As cars qualified around him Friday evening, Smith met with FOX Sports and Motorsports Hotspot in the garage area and admitted he was a bit puzzled by the events that took place and put him in the wall.

“The left front brake definitely locked up,” explained Smith. “I’m not sure why it locked up that bad, especially for how much brake pressure I used. I got in there … maybe 60 [or] 70 percent, not attacking that hard. Initially it spiked to like 200 pounds of brake pressure, which is not a lot, especially for here in Martinsville … but right when it hit that spike, it locked up and I wasn’t even turning in [at that point].

“I got completely off the brake pedal trying to let it unlock, and it never unlocked all the way to the wall.”

Despite the incident, Smith and crew chief Jeff Meendering confirmed that they would not move to a backup car for Saturday’s race, instead electing to take the primary car back to JGR’s Huntersville, N.C., race shop for overnight repairs.


Chandler Smith looks over his car in the Martinsville Speedway garage Friday. (Jacob Seelman/RFD photo)

“We’ll go back to the shop tonight, get it fixed up and go kick their [tails] tomorrow,” affirmed Smith.

Added Meendering, “Just looking at it right now, I don’t know that we have any suspension damage. We’ve definitely got body damage, some [damage with the] splitter bar, but it’s mainly cosmetic. We’ll bring it home, get it cleaned up, and be ready to race after that.”

Saturday will mark Smith’s third start at Martinsville. In two Xfinity Series races at the track last year, while driving for Kaulig Racing, Smith earned a best finish of 10th in April.

Despite his tough start at Martinsville, Smith has had an electric start to the season in the Xfinity Series.

The 21-year-old from Talking Rock, Ga., won two of the first six races – at Arizona’s Phoenix Raceway and Richmond (Va.) Raceway – and enters the weekend at Martinsville as the regular season point leader.

Coverage of Saturday’s DUDE Wipes 250 is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday night, live on FS1, the Motor Racing Network, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.