Sometimes to secure a victory in NASCAR’s National Series, you just need to have luck.
While that wasn’t the sole factor in Zane Smith’s return to NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory lane at Circuit of The Americas on Saturday, it certainly made the journey there quite a bit easier.
In reality, it came down to a strategic decision by Chris Lawson, crew chief on the No. 38 Ford F-150, to bring Smith down pit lane on the final lap of the race’s second stage, while Kyle Busch, the race leader, chose to stay on the track.
Moments after the top-two drivers committed to their respective decisions, a caution was displayed, when Parker Kligerman was forced to stop his No. 75 Chevrolet Silverado on the frontstretch, due to an electrical issue.
That caution flag, which coincided with the end of the stage, allowed Smith to collect second-place points in the stage, make his pit stop, and maintain his track position, thus clinching his status as favorite for the win.
Kyle Busch, who alongside Ross Chastain dominated Saturday’s XPEL 225, was mired back in 16th for what ended up being the final restart of the race, forcing the driver of the No. 51 Chevrolet Silverado to fight through the pack.
Busch, who along with Chase Purdy was searching for Kyle Busch Motorsports’ 100th NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory, was only able to get his way to second place, and was unable to get closer than 5.451 seconds behind the winner Zane Smith.
Ty Majeski, driving the No. 98 Ford F-150, earned a third-place finish in Saturday’s event at Circuit of The Americas. Tyler Ankrum finished fourth, scoring his first top-five finish since his tenure with GMS Racing in 2021.
Ross Chastain, who battled throughout much of the race for the win with Kyle Busch, suffered fuel pressure issues in the middle portion of the event but was able to get his Niece Motorsports entry back into the top five.
Corey Heim came home sixth, with Nick Sanchez running in his tire tracks in seventh. TRICON Garage teammates Tanner Gray and Kaz Grala finished eighth and ninth, with Ben Rhodes completing the top-10.
Rhodes was running inside the top three coming into the final corner of the race, when his No. 99 Ford F-150 spit out the driveshaft, causing his ThorSport entry to slow dramatically in the final feet of the race, falling to 10th.
Leaving COTA, the NASCAR Truck Series remains in the state of Texas, but enters the fifth race of the season with a brand-new points leader, as Zane Smith rockets to the top of the point standings by two points over Ty Majeski.
Ben Rhodes, Christian Eckes, and Grant Enfinger complete the top five in points. Matt Crafton, Tyler Ankrum, Matt DiBenedetto, Corey Heim, and Tanner Gray complete the top-10 in points and the current playoff field.