Zane Smith wins NASCAR Truck Series title: “We bought the large one”

AVONDALE, Ariz. — When preparing for the 2022 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship race, Zane Smith would turn off the film of the 2021 race with 10 laps remaining. He couldn’t bear to watch himself lose. 

He took the pain from that moment, as well as a second-place finish in the standings in 2020, and used them as fuel as he rallied to win the 2022 season finale and capture the series crown Friday night at Phoenix Raceway.

Smith went from 11th with 10 laps left in regulation to second when the caution flew with three laps, resulting in a two-lap dash to the finish. He outdueled Ben Rhodes, who was only on two fresh tires while Smith was on four, and Chandler Smith for the title.

Zane Smith wins the 2022 NASCAR Truck Series Championship

Zane Smith wins the 2022 NASCAR Truck Series Championship

Zane Smith win the 2022 NASCAR Tenting World Truck Series Championship after holding off Ben Rhodes in a wild ultimate time beyond regulation end.

“I wasn’t going to let it go down like that,” Zane Smith mentioned. “I knew when I came out 11th that I’ve been in way uglier times before, and I was either wrecked or I was coming home with the championship trophy.

“And we bought the large one.”

Takeaways from the truck finale:

Zane Smith at his greatest all night time

Zane Smith led 77 laps and his Front Row Motorsports truck was the dominant truck of the race. But a slow pit stop put him fourth among those with four fresh tires.

His truck was so strong, he pretty much was able to out-run his competitors on the final lap to keep them from getting to his bumper.

It was no surprise to see Zane Smith so strong. He had won the regular-season championship and the victory was his fourth of the year.

“I did not suppose it was going to be that dramatic, however the third time is the allure,” Zane Smith mentioned.

Different finalists felt beat

The other three championship contenders had their chances — Rhodes finished second, Chandler Smith third and Ty Majeski was 20th after spinning while battling Zane Smith for second with three laps remaining. That Majeski spin likely cost Rhodes, who possibly could have held off Zane Smith if there wasn’t another restart to bunch up the field.

 “I in all probability ought to have been both extra aggressive or approach much less aggressive,” said Majeski, as he either would have tapped Zane Smith if he was more aggressive or wouldn’t have spun if he was less aggressive.

The Majeski move was a sign he did all he could do, and the other two drivers who went home empty felt Zane Smith out-executed them at the end.

“I even tried to drive it in as deep as I might to get to him,” Rhodes said about the final lap. “And the TV did not present it one of the best, however I simply banged the truck off the wall as a result of I wasn’t going to make the nook.”

Chandler Smith was hampered at the end when Rhodes was behind Zane Smith and gave him a little push while the Smiths were side-by-side.

“My greatest shot was to attempt to wiggle him slightly bit, keep aspect by aspect stepping into [Turn] 1 and use him up once more, which I nearly did, however the 99 [of Rhodes] was nonetheless behind him,” Chandler Smith mentioned.

“They have been in a position to line up, and he form of had an air buffer and form of pushed him away from me.”

Three championship contenders return

Three of the four finalists — Zane Smith, Rhodes and Majeski — will return to their teams next season. Chandler Smith will move to the Xfinity Series to drive for Kaulig Racing.

Zane Smith’s team will have extra work as Front Row Motorsports won’t be getting trucks next year from David Gilliland Racing, which is moving from Ford to Toyota. Front Row, which fields two Cup cars and celebrated its first NASCAR championship with the Zane Smith victory, should have no problem building the trucks.

“The Truck Series has simply grown in depth, and the power of the sphere has grow to be unbelievable,” said Rhodes, the 2021 champion. “Like, it’s getting so extremely arduous to get top-10s now.”

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter at @bobpockrass, and sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.

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