The Camping World Truck Series season has come to an end at Phoenix Raceway. Four drivers entered with the goal of winning the championship, but only one, Zane Smith, pulled it off while snapping a streak of near-misses.
“Oh, my God, third time’s a charm,” Zane said after climbing out of the No. 38 Ford. “I want this s*** more than anyone in the world. I don’t care what anyone says. Thank you to all you race fans, my whole team. Oh, my God, I was crying that whole lap.”
The Truck Series championship came down to an overtime restart after Ty Majeski spun himself out trying to pass Zane Smith. The three remaining championship four drivers lined with Ben Rhodes as the control car and Chandler Smith on the front row with him. Zane lined up behind the defending regular-season champion.
Once the green flag waved for overtime, Zane dove to the inside of Rhodes as Chandler took the field three-wide. He managed to take the lead from the No. 99, and he maintained his position at the front of the pack as the white flag waved.
Rhodes battled back and took back second place from Chandler, and he was right on Zane’s bumper on the final lap. However, Rhodes ran out of time as the Front Row Motorsports driver crossed the finish line to capture his first championship.
Smith’s Win Snapped a Difficult Streak
Zane has been in the championship four in three separate seasons. He finished second in 2020 behind Sheldon Creed while driving for GMS Racing. He then finished second behind Rhodes during the 2021 season.
Once Zane moved over to Front Row Motorsports, he began putting on a show. He kicked off the season with a win at Daytona International Speedway, and he went on to win two more races during the regular season. This helped him lock up the regular-season championship and the bonus points that helped him move through the playoffs.
Zane did not win another race until the season finale, but he took care of business when the pressure was on. He captured the Truck Series championship, and he snapped a two-year streak featuring bitter defeats.
“Just last year and the year before we showed so much speed and should have won a lot more races than we did, but Bob Jenkins is the only reason why I’m here right now, and without him, none of this would be possible,” Smith added during his post-race interview with FS1.
“When I came here, all I cared about was the guys that were on this team, and I had seen their work ethic and I seen the effort they put in, and I know they want it as bad as I do. I didn’t care what the trucks looked like, what anything looked like. All I knew was the work ethic was there and we could make a championship out of this team.”
Smith Dominated Early at Phoenix Raceway
The race at Phoenix Raceway ended with Zane at the front of the pack. It also started with him on the pole after he posted the fastest lap during qualifying.
Zane jumped to the lead at the opening green flag, and he proceeded to turn in a dominant performance. He led all 45 laps of Stage 1 before taking the green and white checkered flag.
Stage 2 started poorly for Zane. A slow pit stop dropped him out of the lead, and he had to spend the segment working his way back through traffic. Zane was ultimately able to retake the lead with one lap remaining before winning Stage 2.
The No. 38 team had slower pit stops throughout the final stage, especially after Hailie Deegan hit the wall and brought out the caution. Ben Rhodes took the lead with an aggressive two-tire stop while Zane lost eight positions. However, he took the field four-wide on the restart and put himself back in contention before the final caution set up an overtime restart.