Zane Smith at last wins the Truck Series finale, on the third attempt
It took extra time in his third attempt for Zane Smith to bring home a NASCAR championship at last.
Smith held off reigning Truck Series champion Ben Rhodes and Chandler Smith in a two-lap overtime sprint Friday night to succeed at Phoenix Raceway and finally bring home the series championship.
Smith completed second in the championship finale the past two years and left Phoenix following his 2021 defeat without a job. He was gotten by Front Row Motorsports and delivered the Ford team its first Truck championship.
“Third time’s a charm,” Smith said. “I was crying that whole last lap. For so long I’ve wanted this moment, all my life. That’s all I’ve got.”
Smith won the first two stages yet a slow pit stop in front of the last stage dropped him into traffic and constrained him to work his direction back to the front. Then, at that point, a series of alerts removed the race from Smith’s control.
He took four tires on a later caution and it dropped Smith to 11th in the field. Rhodes, in the interim, took two tires and left pit street leading the four title competitors.
Rhodes started to lead the pack with seven to go, a similar lap Smith advanced toward second on four new tires. Then a spin by championship competitor Ty Majeski as the playoff drivers ran first through fourth sent the race to overtime.
Smith decided to restart within behind Rhodes, and Chandler Smith in third immediately climbed to the open spot on the first column for the restart. Zane Smith quickly made it three-wide to start to lead the pack and come out on top in his fourth race of the season, lastly a title.
“I wasn’t going to let it go down like that,” Zane Smith said of potentially finishing second for a third consecutive year.
“I was wrecking or winning this thing. There was no other option.”
Rhodes completed second in close to defense of his title.
“I’m going to mope all the way back to Kentucky,” the Toyota driver said.
Chandler Smith completed third in his last race with Kyle Busch Motorsports and Toyota. Busch is moving his trucks to Chevrolet next season and Chandler Smith will race in the Xfinity Series for Kaulig Racing and Chevy.
Majeski fell to 20th in the wake of turning attempting to make a pass for the success.