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.”
|1||20||38||Zane Smith||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||106||Running|
|2||27||99||Ben Rhodes||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||106||Running|
|3||14||98||Christian Eckes||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||106||Running|
|4||24||15||Tanner Gray||David Gilliland Racing||Ford||106||Running|
|5||31||75||Parker Kligerman||Henderson Motorsports||Chevrolet||106||Running|
|6||9||02||Jesse Little||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet||106||Running|
|7||1||66||Ty Majeski||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||106||Running|
|8||28||20||Danny Bohn||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet||106||Running|
|9||22||42||Carson Hocevar||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||106||Running|
|10||23||25||Matt DiBenedetto||Rackley WAR||Chevrolet||106||Running|
|11||15||12||Spencer Boyd||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet||106||Running|
|12||8||17||Riley Herbst*||David Gilliland Racing||Ford||106||Running|
|13||16||22||Austin Wayne Self||AM Racing||Chevrolet||106||Running|
|14||35||56||Timmy Hill||Hill Motorsports||Toyota||106||Running|
|15||13||7||Austin Hill*||Spire Motorsports||Chevrolet||106||Running|
|16||5||52||Stewart Friesen||Halmar Friesen Racing||Toyota||106||Running|
|17||26||1||Hailie Deegan||David Gilliland Racing||Ford||106||Running|
|18||34||43||Thad Moffitt||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||106||Running|
|19||12||44||Kris Wright||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||106||Running|
|20||33||33||Jason White||Reaume Brothers Racing||Toyota||105||Accident|
|21||3||18||Chandler Smith||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota||105||Running|
|22||32||30||Tate Fogleman||On Point Motorsports||Toyota||105||Running|
|23||25||28||Bryan Dauzat||FDNY Racing||Chevrolet||105||Running|
|24||2||4||John Hunter Nemechek||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota||104||Running|
|25||10||45||Lawless Alan||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||103||Accident|
|26||30||19||Derek Kraus||McAnally-Hilgemann Racing||Chevrolet||101||Accident|
|27||29||88||Matt Crafton||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||100||Accident|
|28||4||16||Tyler Ankrum||Hattori Racing Enterprises||Toyota||99||Accident|
|29||7||23||Grant Enfinger||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||99||Accident|
|30||18||91||Colby Howard||McAnally-Hilgemann Racing||Chevrolet||99||Accident|
|31||19||9||Blaine Perkins||CR7 Motorsports||Chevrolet||99||Accident|
|32||6||51||Corey Heim||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota||91||Accident|
|33||11||24||Jack Wood||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||63||Accident|
|34||36||47||Johnny Sauter||G2G Racing||Toyota||60||Electrical|
|35||21||32||Bret Holmes||Bret Holmes Racing||Chevrolet||44||Clutch|
|36||17||40||Dean Thompson||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||36||Brakes|
|DNQ||84||Clay Greenfield||Cook Racing Technologies||Toyota|
|DNQ||3||Jordan Anderson||Jordan Anderson Racing||Chevrolet|
|DNQ||10||Jennifer Jo Cobb||Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing||Ford|
|DNQ||61||Chase Purdy||Hattori Racing Enterprises||Toyota|
|DNQ||46||Matt Jaskol||G2G Racing||Toyota|
|WD||97||Jason Kitzmiller||CR7 Motorsports||Chevrolet|
* – Ineligible for Truck points