Zane Smith wins 2022 NASCAR truck season championship in Phoenix

Zane Smith waves the checkered flag after winning Friday night’s 28th annual Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix Raceway. Photo by David Barks

Elliott Stern, Sports Editor

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Zane Smith is the new king of NASAR’s Camping World Truck Series.

In a thrilling two-lap shootout, the 23-year-old from Huntington Beach beat Championship 4 drivers Ben Rhodes and Chandler Smith (no relation) to the finish line to capture his first Truck Series title by 0.236-seconds and 0.259-seconds, respectively, over defending truck series champion Rhodes and Smith in the 28th annual Lucas Oil 150 Friday night, Nov. 4, 2022 at Phoenix Raceway.

“I’ve waited for this moment all my life,” said Zane Smith. “I wasn’t going to let it go down like that. I was either going to wreck or win it – there were no other options.”

Zane Smith (38) beats Ben Rhodes (99) and Chandler Smith 18) to the finish line to win Friday night’s 28th annual Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix Raceway. Photo by David Barks

For Zane Smith, the third time was the charm, having finished second in the championship finale the last two years.

“It’s just awesome,” said Zane Smith’s Crew Chief Chris Lawson. “It’s amazing for the team. On our last pit stop, I just put (four) tires on and let Zane do what he does.”

Smith had the dominant truck for most of the night, leading 77 laps of the 150-lap race over the Raceway’s one-mile oval.

He captured the pole, easily won the race’s first two stages, and was in control until a slow pit stop with a four-tire change after a late caution sent him back to 11th place when the race restarted with 10 laps to go.

“I knew our night had gone smooth but we struggled on pit road,” said Zane Smith. “I went from dominating to 11th. I was not going to lose another title. It was the craziest win I ever had but obviously the biggest.”

Zane Smith waves the checkered flag after winning Friday night’s 28th annual Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix Raceway. Photo by David Barks

By lap 145, all four Championship drivers were in the top four with Rhodes in the lead followed by Zane Smith, Ty Majeski, and Chandler Smith.

But Majeski then caused the seventh and final caution when, on lap 148, he tried to pass Zane Smith for second, spun, and fell back to 17th place. Majeski eventually finished 20th.

“I thought the best opportunity for us was to wiggle the 38 but it didn’t work out,” said Majeski. “We lost air and just went around and it ended our shot at the win.”

“I just want to give a shout-out to the other three (finalists),” said Zane Smith. “We had every opportunity to wreck each other. We raced each other hard but didn’t wreck each other.”

And that forced overtime – a two-lap race to the finish with three of the four title contenders starting up front.

On the final restart, Rhodes lined up with the lead on the inside lane with Chandler Smith right beside him and Zane Smith behind.

Zane Smith dove in low going through turn one to grab the lead while Chandler Smith and Rhodes battled for second. Zane Smith was able to hold both challengers off until the end.

On the last pit stop, “We just changed two tires versus four,” said Rhodes. “At the end, I just didn’t have the grip I needed. I didn’t have the pace all night but we got up there. We just fight, fight, fight no matter what. We’ve just got to find a little more speed.”

“We were mistake-free all day but it just wasn’t meant to be,” said Chandler Smith. “Congrats to the 38 (Zane Smith) team. Their truck was lights out all day. I’m not happy about finishing third. I did everything I could but their truck was in a different zip code all night.”

“After that final restart, I don’t know if it was an exciting finish but I was having a heart attack,” said Zane Smith. “And then we had the biggest Victory Lane celebration ever. I just can’t believe the night we had.”

Pole-sitter Zane Smith (38) leads Layne Riggs (62) and Corey Heim at the start of Friday night’s 28th annual Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix Raceway. Smith won the race and with it the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season championship. Photo by David Barks

John Hunter Nemechek finished fourth followed by Stewart Friesen, Grant Enfinger, Corey Heim, Tanner Gray, Kaden Honeycutt, and Carson Hocevar.

The truck race kicked off NASCAR’S championship weekend.

The 2022 Xfinity season champion will be decided Saturday afternoon with the Cup series wrapping up on Sunday.

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