KBM announced the news on February 10 and revealed that Sammy Smith will be the driver of the No. 18 Toyota Camry for the majority of the season. TMC Transportation will continue its relationship with Smith while serving as his primary partner. Pilot Flying J will also join Smith as a partner in 2022 after previously supporting Michael Annett in the Xfinity Series.
The 17-year-old Smith is the defending ARCA Menards Series East champion, and he will pursue more wins while joining forces with KBM. He is only 17, so he won’t be eligible to compete in all of the races on the 2022 schedule. His first race will be the ARCA Menards Series East event at New Smyrna Speedway on February 15.
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“We’re looking forward to having an expanded role within the Toyota Racing Development program in 2022 and being reunited with Sammy,” team owner Kyle Busch said in a statement. “He was able to win multiple races and a championship in the East Series last year and we’re confident that he’ll be able to continue his winning ways this year.”
KBM Will Make Its ARCA Menards Series Debut
KBM has no previous experience in the ARCA Menards Series. Though Smith has previously competed in Late Model races for the organization. Instead, KBM has primarily focused on the Camping World Truck Series.
The team made its debut in 2010 with Johnny Benson Jr., Busch, Kasey Kahne, Tayler Malsam, and Brian Ickler all making starts. A large group of drivers has since combined for 707 starts, 412 top-10 finishes, 258 top-fives, and a record-setting 90 wins in the Truck Series. Two of these drivers, Erik Jones and Christopher Bell, won Truck Series championships while driving for KBM in 2015 and 2017, respectively.
KBM will now take on the ARCA Menards Series while joining forces with a championship driver. Smith is young, but his 2021 ARCA Menards Series East season featured seven top-10 finishes, seven top-fives, and three wins. His average finish was 4.3 as he split time between the No. 18 and No. 81 entries.
Smith Will Have To Replace Another Champion
The 2022 season will be the first for KBM in the ARCA Menards Series, but the team will have to follow up an impressive performance. A Toyota Racing Development driver previously secured a championship while putting the No. 18 on display.
Ty Gibbs drove the stock car during the 2021 ARCA Menards Series season. He started all 20 races and only finished outside of the top-five one time — a 27th-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway due to a crash. Gibbs also won a series-leading 10 times and led 1,689 laps en route to capturing the championship.
Smith will now set out to contend in the No. 18 while joining forces with Kyle Busch Motorsports. He will not be able to match Gibbs’ numbers while running a partial schedule, but he should have the opportunity to win his first race in the ARCA Menards Series.