NASCAR Truck Series

Zane Smith begins FRM tenure with overtime NextEra Energy 250 win

3 Mins read
Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Zane Smith‘s new life at Front Row Motorsports is off to a good start, even if it resulted in a repeat of familiar events within a short span. In his first race for the team, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series‘ season-opening NextEra Energy 250 at Daytona International Speedway, he was the leader coming to the white flag when a massive wreck forced overtime. On the final lap, another crash resulted in the race ending under caution while he was in front, securing his fourth career win.

Ty Majeski, getting another shot at a full-time Truck season for ThorSport Racing, won the pole while Smith started twentieth. Majeski would dominate the opening stage before being passed by reigning regular season champion John Hunter Nemechek, who took the stage win ahead of Chandler Smith, Stewart Friesen, Corey Heim, Grant Enfinger, Smith, Majeski, Tanner Gray, Bret Holmes, and Tyler Ankrum. The top four were Toyota drivers.

Like Stage #1, Nemechek was relatively quiet in a caution-free segment as Majeski and Derek Kraus led the majority of Stage #2’s laps before winning anyway. However, Kraus got loose on lap 38 and Nemechek cleared him for the lead and stage victory. Defending champion Ben Rhodes followed, with Smith, Christian Eckes, Matt Crafton, Austin Wayne Self, Ankrum, Kraus, Austin Hill, and Majeski in tow.

Despite the cleanliness of the first two segments, Stage #3 was a far more chaotic affair with five cautions. The first came on lap 65 when Jack Wood slid into the backstretch inside wall, which was followed by Heim’s contact with Dean Thompson on lap 81. The ensuing restart was short-lived as Tate Fogleman‘s tyre went down in turn four, triggering a wreck that collected Jason White and Kris Wright.

At the front, Nemechek traded the lead with a multitude of drivers like Ankrum and Colby Howard. Eckes took the top spot on lap 96 and was side-by-side with Smith as they prepared to begin the final lap when carnage broke loose: Eckes was clipped by Nemechek and sent into the middle of the pack, resulting in a crash that involved fifteen other drivers. Although Smith had barely edged out Eckes to cross the start/finish line, NASCAR was able to squeeze the caution flag in before the leader could begin the final lap.

After a red flag for cleanup, Smith continued to lead as overtime began. Once again, he was on top when another crash came, this time after the white flag as White and Wright wrecked together again to end the race under caution.

The win is the second for FRM in the Trucks and the team’s second at Daytona after Michael McDowell won the 2021 Daytona 500; incidentally, Smith and McDowell’s wins both came with a Love’s Travel Stops livery. Smith is the sixth driver to win the Truck season opener in his first race with a new team, joining Mike Wallace (Ultra Motorsports) at Homestead in 1999, Robert Pressley (Bobby Hamilton Racing) in his series début in 2002, Michael Waltrip (Billy Ballew Motorsports) in 2011, John King (Red Horse Racing) in 2012, Johnny Sauter (GMS Racing) in 2016, and Hill (Hattori Racing Enterprises) in 2019.

“I grew up coming here racing my go-kart race after Christmas on the road course. I was like, ‘Damn, it would be pretty cool to win here in NASCAR.’ At that time, I was like ten years old,” commented Smith in his press conference. “I never thought it would happen, especially with my past two years here, just always having a shot right at the very end and then not working out. There’s just so many variables to win here (which) is why it’s so hard to win here.”

Race results

FinishStartNumberDriverTeamManufacturerLapsStatus
12038Zane SmithFront Row MotorsportsFord106Running
22799Ben RhodesThorSport RacingToyota106Running
31498Christian EckesThorSport RacingToyota106Running
42415Tanner GrayDavid Gilliland RacingFord106Running
53175Parker KligermanHenderson MotorsportsChevrolet106Running
6902Jesse LittleYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet106Running
7166Ty MajeskiThorSport RacingToyota106Running
82820Danny BohnYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet106Running
92242Carson HocevarNiece MotorsportsChevrolet106Running
102325Matt DiBenedettoRackley WARChevrolet106Running
111512Spencer BoydYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet106Running
12817Riley Herbst*David Gilliland RacingFord106Running
131622Austin Wayne SelfAM RacingChevrolet106Running
143556Timmy HillHill MotorsportsToyota106Running
15137Austin Hill*Spire MotorsportsChevrolet106Running
16552Stewart FriesenHalmar Friesen RacingToyota106Running
17261Hailie DeeganDavid Gilliland RacingFord106Running
183443Thad MoffittGMS RacingChevrolet106Running
191244Kris WrightNiece MotorsportsChevrolet106Running
203333Jason WhiteReaume Brothers RacingToyota105Accident
21318Chandler SmithKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota105Running
223230Tate FoglemanOn Point MotorsportsToyota105Running
232528Bryan DauzatFDNY RacingChevrolet105Running
2424John Hunter NemechekKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota104Running
251045Lawless AlanNiece MotorsportsChevrolet103Accident
263019Derek KrausMcAnally-Hilgemann RacingChevrolet101Accident
272988Matt CraftonThorSport RacingToyota100Accident
28416Tyler AnkrumHattori Racing EnterprisesToyota99Accident
29723Grant EnfingerGMS RacingChevrolet99Accident
301891Colby HowardMcAnally-Hilgemann RacingChevrolet99Accident
31199Blaine PerkinsCR7 MotorsportsChevrolet99Accident
32651Corey HeimKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota91Accident
331124Jack WoodGMS RacingChevrolet63Accident
343647Johnny SauterG2G RacingToyota60Electrical
352132Bret HolmesBret Holmes RacingChevrolet44Clutch
361740Dean ThompsonNiece MotorsportsChevrolet36Brakes
DNQ84Clay GreenfieldCook Racing TechnologiesToyota
DNQ3Jordan AndersonJordan Anderson RacingChevrolet
DNQ10Jennifer Jo CobbJennifer Jo Cobb RacingFord
DNQ61Chase PurdyHattori Racing EnterprisesToyota
DNQ46Matt JaskolG2G RacingToyota
WD97Jason KitzmillerCR7 MotorsportsChevrolet
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Truck points
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About author
Justin is a History major at San Jose State University and lifelong racing fan who has worked for The Checkered Flag since 2018. His coverage mainly focuses on NASCAR, the Stadium Super Trucks, and off-road series like Extreme E and SCORE International. He also dabbles in other disciplines such as IndyCar, rallycross, and sports cars.
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