Zane Smith Wins NASCAR Truck Series Championship in Phoenix in Exciting OT Finish – Charlotte Observer | CarTailz

Zane Smith drives during a NASCAR Truck Series auto race on Friday, November 4, 2022 in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Zane Smith drives during a NASCAR Truck Series auto race on Friday, November 4, 2022 in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)


For Zane Smith, the third time was the magic.

After two second-place finishes in 2020 and 2021 and an inspired playoff run in 2022, the 23-year-old driver finally got the NASCAR Truck Series Championship win he was waiting for Friday at Phoenix Raceway.

It is the first Truck Series title of his young career.

“I wanted that (to win) more than anyone in the world, I don’t care what anyone says,” Smith told Fox Sports, seconds after just winning the biggest race of his life. “Thanks to all the racing fans, my whole team. Oh my god I cried the whole round.”

Smith swept all three stages (even starting from pole) on Friday night. But that doesn’t mean the victory came without a fight.

A caution with 13 laps to go changed the face of the race, sending all four Championship 4 drivers – Zane Smith, Chandler Smith, Ben Rhodes and Ty Majeski – into the pit lane.

Rhodes took two tires while the rest of the championship field took four, and that catapulted Rhodes to the front as the race turned green with about 10 laps to go. At one point in the final stretch of the race, the Championship 4 drivers were tied for 1-4th.

With three laps to go, while attempting to make a championship move, Majeski collided with Smith on a corner and spun out – resulting in a caution, burying Majeski in the field and starting an overtime run that would get any race fan’s heart racing could.

Zane Smith (38) passes Layne Riggs during a NASCAR Truck Series auto race on Friday, November 4, 2022 in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Rick Scuteri AP

In the two-lap overtime, the newly tired Zane Smith somehow managed to maneuver around Rhodes and stop Chandler Smith – he crossed the start/finish line ahead of the rest of the field.

Then the celebration he had dreamed of for so long began.

“I wouldn’t let that happen,” said the winner. “Either I was devastated or I won this thing. There was no other option.”

Rhodes, last year’s Truck Series champion, finished second. Chandler Smith was third. And Majeski was 20.

“We didn’t have the pace all night to get up there and compete, so it was a great heads-up call from my crew chief (to run two tires on the final pit stop),” Rhodes told Fox Sports after the race. “Ultimately, we just didn’t need that last precaution. I think we could have stopped him in the last few laps. I gave as much dirty air as he could take, so that caution got us. I did everything I could to jump at the restart but two tires against four, I just didn’t have the grip I needed.”

Rhodes added with a disappointed but sporting smile: “We didn’t have the pace but we got up there and that’s what counts in the end. We just have to go back, do our homework, and yeah, the second one isn’t fun. I’ll fight my way all the way back to Kentucky.”

Zane Smith drives Rick Scuteri during the NASCAR Truck Series auto race on Friday, November 4, 2022 in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri). AP

Unofficial Results of the Phoenix Raceway NASCAR Truck Series Championship

location driver car no
1 Zane Smith 38
2 Ben Rhodes 99
3 ChandlerSmith 18
4 John H Nemechek 4
5 Stewart Friesen 52
6 Give Enfinger 23
7 Corey Heim 51
8th Tanner grey fifteen
9 Caden Honeycutt 30
10 Carson Hocevar 42
11 Derek Kraus 19
12 Matt Crafton 88
13 Layne Riggs 62
14 Tyler Ankrum 16
fifteen Colby Howard 91
16 Jake Garcia 35
17 Taylor Gray 17
18 Outlaw Alan 45
19 Chase Purdy 61
20 Ty Majeski 66
21 Dean Thompson 40
22 Matt Dibenedetto 25
23 Tyler Hill 5
24 Austin Wayne Himself 22
25 Blaine Perkins 9
26 Chris Hacker 43
27 Timmy Hill 56
28 Johnny Sauter 02
29 Jack Wood 24
30 Christian Eckes 98
31 Hailie Deegan 1
32 Rajah Caruth 7
33 Spencer Boyd 12
34 Keith McGee 33
35 Armani Williams 20

This story was originally published Nov 5, 2022 12:49 am.

Alex Zietlow writes for The Observer, where he has been a reporter since August 2022, about NASCAR, Charlotte FC and the way sports intersect with life in the Charlotte area. Zietlow’s work has also been recognized by the NC and SC Press Associations as the APSE, which recognized him with top 10 finishes in the Beat Writing and Short Feature categories in their 2021 Writing Competition. He previously wrote for The Herald at Rock Hill from 2019-22.

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