Written by: Adrian Beecher
Zane Smith captured the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix Raceway on Friday evening while also collecting his first NASCAR Truck Series Title.
Here’s how it went down in Phoenix, AZ.
Zane Smith led the field to the drop of the green flag. However, Layne Riggs took over the lead on the first lap and led the field as things got going.
Smith would regain the lead seven laps in as the first caution flag came out as the No. 33 of Keith McGee and the No. 20 of Armani Williams got into each other in turn three. The other three Championship drivers sat respectfully in 5th with Ben Rhodes, 6th with Ty Majeski, and Chandler Smith in 9th.
Things would get back green on lap 14, with Zane Smith getting a great restart and jumping quickly out to a half-second lead.
Twenty laps in, Z. Smith still led the field. Things were going as well for Majeski, who found himself back in 11th, behind all three other contenders.
Zane Smith would take stage one, with Ben Rhodes in 6th, Chandler Smith in 8th, and Majeski in 11th.
After pit stops under yellow, the field was shaken up a bit. Zane Smith would restart back in 3rd, with KBM driver Corey Heim in the No. 51 leading the field, alongside fellow KBM driver John Hunter Nemechek in 2nd. The rest of the Championship Four contenders filed out as follows: Chandler Smith in 4th, Majeski jumping up to 6th, and Rhodes in 10th.
Twenty laps into stage two, John Hunter Nemechek, held onto the front spot. Behind him was a solid battle between the No. 38 of Z. Smith and No. 18 of C. Smith. Then it was Heim in 4th and Majeski in 5th. The 4th championship driver, Rhodes, had fallen back into 10th due to a mistake in the pits that cost him valuable spots under the caution after a 20.6-second stop.
On lap 87, Zane Smith would overtake the No. 4 of Nemechek, and he would sail to a state two win. Chandler Smith finished in 3rd, with Majeski in 5th and Rhodes back in 10th.
Chandler Smith would lead the field as the green flag dropped to get the final stage underway. However, only a mere half lap into the restart and the caution came out as the No. 16 of Tyler Ankrum got into the back of the No. 98 of Eckes, sending him backward into the wall, in turn one as the field tried to take it six-wide.
The field got back under green with 45 laps to go, with C. Smith leading the way and his two KMB teammates Nemechek and Corey Heim behind. Then the rest of the Championship contenders, Zane Smith in 4th, Ben Rhodes in 5th, and Majeski in 6th.
Again, the caution would come out after just one green flag lap. This time it would come as a result of the No. 62 of Riggs getting into the side of the No. 17 of Taylor Gray, sending him into the turn-one wall. The No. 7 of Rajah Caruth would get collected and took the brunt of the caution, ending his night, and the No. 19 of Derek Kraus also got a piece of the action. Nemechek was the leader with the Championship four rounding out as follows: Chandler Smith in 2nd, Zane Smith in 3rd, Ben Rhodes in 5th, and Majeski in 7th.
On the restart, Zane Smith would take the lead with the No. 18 of Chandler Smith knocking on his tailgate behind.
With 16 laps to go, the caution came out as Halie Deegan found herself in the wall. This forced Zane Smith to give up a more than a second lead on Chandler Smith. This also gave new hope to Majeski, who was back in 4th, and Rhodes in 7th.
On the final stop, Rhodes took just two right-side tires and put him in front, with a 3rd place restart after Stewart Friesen stayed out and took over the lead in the No. 52. Carson Hocevar sat 2nd in the No. 44.
The other Championship four drivers sat back in 8th with Majeski, Chandler Smith back in 9th, and Zane Smith back in 11th.
On the restart, Majeski jumped up to 4th, and by the eight-to-go mark, all four of the Championship, four drivers were in the top five. With five to go, it was one through four. P1, Rhodes, P2 Zane Smith, P3 Majeski and P4, Chandler Smith.
With three to go, Majeski went for a pass on Zane Smith, and he couldn’t get the pass and forced him to go loose, and found himself in the wall with the caution out.
Majeski would drop to 21st. Ben Rhodes remained in the lead and had Zane Smith in second and Chandler Smith in 3rd.
This sent the race to NASCAR Overtime! It would take Zane Smith less than a lap to take over the lead from Rhodes, as the two went low and Chandler Smith went high on the restart. Zane would hold off Rhodes, who gave him a bump on the final turn, claiming his first NASCAR Truck Series Championship!
Image Credit: Birton Gilbert