NASCAR Cup Series

Zane Smith wins NASCAR Truck Series title: "We got the big one”

November 5

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 win the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship after holding off Ben Rhodes in a wild final overtime finish.

"I wasn't going to let it go down like that," Zane Smith said. "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 got the big one."

Takeaways from the truck finale:

Zane Smith at his best all night

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 didn't think it was going to be that dramatic, but the third time is the charm," Zane Smith said.

Other 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 probably should have been either more aggressive or way 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 could to get to him," Rhodes said about the final lap. "And the TV didn't show it the best, but I just banged the truck off the wall because I wasn't going to make the corner."

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 best shot was to try to wiggle him a little bit, stay side by side getting into [Turn] 1 and use him up again, which I almost did, but the 99 [of Rhodes] was still behind him," Chandler Smith said.

"They were able to line up, and he kind of had an air buffer and kind 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 just grown in depth, and the strength of the field has become incredible," said Rhodes, the 2021 champion. "Like, it is getting so incredibly hard 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.


Get more from NASCAR Cup Series Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more


share