Zane Smith Clinches Truck Series Championship

Zane Smith
Zane Smith drives during a NASCAR Truck Series auto race Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)(Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

Zane Smith finally exorcised his demons and clinched his first NASCAR Truck Series Championship after two consecutive runner up finishes. Smith held off defending series champion Ben Rhodes to win the season finale at Phoenix International Raceway. It was the fourth win of the season for the 23-year-old.


Smith had the best truck all race and earned the victory. He swept all three stages en route to his first truck series championship. He was leading late in the race when Hailie Deegan crashed with 16 laps to go setting up a late pit stop. Smith came out of the pits in tenth but he was in the Top 5 when fellow Championship Four driver Ty Majeski crashed with four laps to go sending it to overtime. In the extra laps, Smith managed to pass Rhodes and hold on for the win and his first championship.


This was a race dominated by the championship four. Smith won the race; Rhodes finished second and Chandler Smith finished third. The only one of the Championship four to not finish in the Top 5 was Majeski who was running in the Top 5 before crashing in the final laps of regulation. Majeski finished in 20th place in the race and fourth in the championship standings.


This race started at 10 pm Eastern time. That can’t be happening on Friday nights. I went to bed before it was over and had to watch a replay today to write this recap. Something has to change going forward. In previous years, the final race has either been held at Homestead or Atlanta. Those are East Coast tracks that work well for everyone to see the majority of the race. Phoenix on a Friday night doesn’t work. If NASCAR insists on finishing the season at Phoenix, there need to be a Saturday double header with the Xfinity Series so truck fans on the East can see the race in real time. If they insist on trucks getting their own championship night, that’s fine, but the series can’t end in Phoenix. Bring it back to an East Coast track. Ten pm is too late to start a race.


The season is over and the teams are already getting ready for the Championship banquet and preparing for next season. Will Smith, Rhodes and others return for another truck series season? Or will they make the move to the Xfinity or Cup series? Do we have a new Ron Hornaday, Jack Sprague or Matt Crafton on our hands? Or do we have more people just biding their time in trucks before they move up to Cup? There is no wrong answer. I’m just ready for Daytona.

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