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Friday, December 9, 2022
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Zane Smith Endures Fierce Fight to Capture Phoenix Victory, 2022 Truck Series Championship

Zane Smith secured his first NASCAR Camping WOrld Truck Series title after back-to-back runner-up results in the championship, making a late-race move on Ben Rhodes and Chandler Smith. PC: Jasen Vinlove | NKP | Courtesy of Ford Performance

After back-to-back runner-up finishes in point standings, Zane Smith is finally a champion of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and there’s no doubt that he had to earn it.

Despite easily having the fastest truck throughout the course of Friday’s season-finale at Phoenix Raceway, the Front Row Motorsports driver had to defend against an insane fight from both Ben Rhodes and Chandler Smith.

Smith, who led a race-high 77 laps, nearly saw another NASCAR Truck Series title slip through his fingers, when the sixth caution of the event came out with 15 laps remaining in the event.

From there, split strategy amongst lead-lap trucks – as well as a subpar pit stop by his Front Row Motorsports crew – forced the Huntington Beach, California-native to restart outside the top-10, fourth of the Championship 4 drivers.

However, Smith didn’t let that stop him from hoisting the championship trophy, making a number of three and four-wide moves on the second-to-last restart of the event to put himself in a prime position to battle for the title.

Originally, Zane’s biggest competition looked to be defending series champion Ben Rhodes, who had taken two tires on his ThorSport Racing entry to gain some much-needed track position.

As the two drivers battled for the lead, both Ty Majeski and Chandler Smith continued to close the gap, placing all four of the championship-eligible drivers within a second of each other.

While battling for second place, Majeski – coming off of two wins in the last three races prior to Friday’s event – got into the left rear of Smith’s No. 38 Ford F-150, which caused the ThorSport driver to spin on the back straightaway, setting up a NASCAR Overtime restart.

The last two laps of the event were a total dogfight, with Chandler Smith, Zane Smith, and Ben Rhodes all battling for the lead, and the championship, in an intense NASCAR Overtime restart.

In fact, over the course of the race’s final 11 laps, both Chandler Smith and Zane Smith, as well as Ben Rhodes, led the Lucas Oil 150, all three of which were actively battling for the 2022 NASCAR Truck Series title.

Video: Zane Smith Prevails in Thrilling Battle For the Championship Against Ben Rhodes and Chandler Smith

 

At the end of the race’s extended distance, the top-three drivers were separated by just over a quarter-second, with Ben Rhodes finishing in the runner-up spot, and Chandler Smith earning a third-place result.

John Hunter Nemechek finished in fourth place, scoring another top-five result in his final race with Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Truck Series. Stewart Friesen completed the race’s top-five finishers.

Grant Enfinger came home in sixth place, while Corey Heim finished his tenure with Kyle Busch Motorsports in seventh. Heim will move to TRICON Garage full-time in 2023, piloting the No. 11 Toyota Tundra.

Tanner Gray, a future teammate to Corey Heim, finished in eighth, with Kaden Honeycutt scoring a career-best ninth-place finish at the one-mile race track. Carson Hocevar, who stayed out under the second-to-last caution, rounded out the top-10.

After the late-race spin, Majeski would only rebound to finish 20th, meaning the ThorSport Racing driver would complete his first full season in the NASCAR Truck Series fourth-place in points.

With the season wrapping up on the west coast, Friday’s event marks the end of an era for the NASCAR Truck Series, which will now officially shed its Camping World branding, making way for the return of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2023.

The new season, which will begin with the series’ traditional season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway in February, promises to deliver the same great, intense racing that the NASCAR Truck Series has for many years.

Joseph Srigley
Joseph Srigleyhttp://tobychristie.com
University of Windsor | Business Administration - Supply Chain & Data Analytics Editor at TobyChristie.com

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