Oh my goodness. Chandler Smith seemingly made a split-second decision and, if so, it potentially prevented him from being injured in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Road America 180.
On Lap 21, Smith suffered an exploded brake rotor coming down the frontstretch at the 4.048-mile road course, and as he was barreling toward the ultra-sharp Turn 1, Smith opted to veer his car to the left in an effort to slow his car down.
As Smith impacted the concrete barrier to the left, the contact caused incredible damage to his No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro. The wall sheered away the side panels on the driver’s door and ripped out the protective foam in the door.
— Toby Christie (@Toby_Christie) July 29, 2023
While the crash looked spectacular, you can only imagine what would have happened had Smith continued and attempted to get through Turn 1 without the brakes.
Smith was able to climb from the No. 16 car under his own power. While his race is over, he’ll live to race another day, thankfully. After being checked and released from the infield care center, Smith talked about the scary incident.
“I was going up the hill on the frontstretch, and right when I tipped over the hill I heard something snap in half, and I felt something come off of the car,” Smith explained. “It’s like the whole front nose just dropped when that happened. And when that happened, I was like, ‘what in the world was that?’
“I had to keep pumping the brakes going down the straightaways as it was at that point in the run. I went to pump them, and nothing was there. I was just trying to scrub speed at that point. I don’t know if that was a smart thing on my end to be honest with you. ”
While he’s unsure if the move was a smart one, I think it beats the alternative of chancing the other option in retrospect.
The issues for Smith have to raise a red flag for his teammate AJ Allmendinger, who has been reporting issues with his brakes after some electrical items under his dash began shorting out early in the race.
Allmendinger has told his team he doesn’t think his brakes will last the entirety of the race, but as of now, Allmendinger remains on track in the third position.