Chandler Smith is still preparing for his rookie year in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, but his Kaulig Racing team wants him to get some action in NASCAR’s highest level too. On Wednesday, the team announced he will attempt to make his Cup Series début in the season-opening Daytona 500, driving a newly opened #13 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 with sponsorship from Quick Tie.
He will also enter the Cup race at Richmond Raceway (2 April), the NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway (21 May), the fall Talladega Superspeedway event (1 October), and the season finale at Phoenix Raceway (5 November). As the #13 does not have a charter, he will need to make every race on qualifying if the entry list exceeds forty, while he can also lock himself into the 500 grid via Duel performance.
“This is a dream come true for me,” said Smith. “As a kid, you always have the goal of one day racing in the Cup Series. I’m hoping that comes true in this year’s Daytona 500. I’m thankful for Harvel Crumley and Quick Tie for the opportunity to run in multiple Cup races this year, and I’m beyond appreciative in the belief that Matt Kaulig and Chris Rice have in me.”
A former Toyota development driver, Smith moved to Kaulig for 2023 after two strong seasons in the Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports, who has also switched to Chevrolet. After winning two races and Rookie of the Year in 2021, he scored three victories and qualified for the 2022 Championship Round where he placed third in points. He also won the 2022 regular season championship.
“Chris and I knew who we had in Chandler when we brought him into our team fold at the end of last year,” commented Kaulig. “He made such an splash on the Craftsman Truck Series in the last couple years. We have the utmost confidence in his full-time Xfinity Series run this year, and with Quick Tie, we think he will turn some heads in his Cup Series starts.”
The team also fields the #16 for A.J. Allmendinger, whose Xfinity ride is filled by Smith for 2023, and the #31 for Justin Haley.