NASCAR Truck Series

Last-lap sneak earns Zane Smith XPEL 225 victory

3 Mins read
Credit: Logan Riely/Getty Images

Bulky NASCAR Camping World Trucks on the twists and turns of Circuit of the Americas? What could go wrong?

For Zane Smith, not a whole lot. He won the first two stages of Saturday’s XPEL 225 and snuck by overtime contact involving leaders Kyle BuschAlex Bowman, and Stewart Friesen to win his second race of the season.

Xfinity Series rookie and 2020 Truck champion Sheldon Creed won the pole, but never had a chance as his #20 truck was plagued by mechanical issues throughout the weekend: a fuel pump change dropped him to the rear for the green flag, and he had worked his way up to the top ten in two laps before a transmission failure resulted in retirement. He is just the third pole-sitter in Truck Series history to finish last after Rich Bickle at Colorado 1996 and David Reutimann at Homestead 2005. With Creed out of the picture, the lead was held by Cup Series regulars as Bowman led the opening lap before Busch claimed it. Although Busch led much of the first stage, he and much of the field pitted before its conclusion which cycled the top spot to Smith. Smith, whose Front Row Motorsports team won the inaugural Truck race at COTA with Todd Gilliland in 2021, claimed the stage victory ahead of Friesen, Ben RhodesDerek KrausTyler AnkrumMatt DiBenedettoTimmy HillChristian Eckes, Busch, and Parker Kligerman.

Dean Thompson‘s truck lost power shortly after Stage #2 began to produce the first race-related caution. Over the ensuing laps, multiple drivers spun or went off course, which culminated in another yellow flag for Chase Purdy spinning Matt Crafton through the gravel. Crafton retaliated later in the stage while Smith spun John Hunter Nemechek for the lead and eventual stage win. Rhodes, Kraus, Chandler Smith, DiBenedetto, Friesen, Carson Hocevar, Hill, and Kligerman followed.

Hailie Deegan‘s difficult month—which consisted of a crash at Las Vegas, a power steering failure in the Mint 400, and a ghastly fire at Atlanta—continued as her truck stopped twice on lap 29 for the next caution. DiBenedetto was the next victim four laps later when his rear end failed.

Another restart came with seven laps remaining as Busch led Hocevar, though Friesen quickly got by the latter. Bowman overtook Friesen for second two laps later. A clusters of spinners and Matt Jaskol‘s stopped vehicle activated overtime with three laps remaining.

Busch and Bowman comprised the front row to begin overtime, though they only completed half a circuit before the caution came out for Kaz Grala‘s beached truck. A second try saw Busch clear the field while Friesen got by Bowman, but Bowman attempted a move down Friesen and Busch’s inside that sent all three drivers wide and allowed Zane Smith to slip by for the lead. Busch, who had choice words about Bowman when he won the Cup race at Las Vegas, was approached by him following the race before telling media, “I felt like we deserved that one, but it doesn’t matter if you deserve it or not. It’s just a matter if you get it. You have to be the first one to the checkered flag to win these things and we just weren’t.”

“52 (Friesen) just turned left when I was inside of him and put us at an angle where neither one of us way [sic] going to make the corner,” Bowman tweeted (followed by a pair of replies correcting the grammatical error).

As Bowman fought with Nemechek for second, Smith ran off with the victory. It is the fifth of his career and first on a road course.

Race results

FinishStartNumberDriverTeamManufacturerLapsStatus
1238Zane SmithFront Row MotorsportsFord46Running
2114John Hunter NemechekKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota46Running
3551Kyle Busch*Kyle Busch MotorsportsToyota46Running
41399Ben RhodesThorSport RacingToyota46Running
51218Chandler SmithKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota46Running
6898Christian EckesThorSport RacingToyota46Running
71016Tyler AnkrumHattori Racing EnterprisesToyota46Running
8642Carson HocevarNiece MotorsportsChevrolet46Running
9752Stewart FriesenHalmar Friesen RacingToyota46Running
101623Grant EnfingerGMS RacingChevrolet46Running
112445Lawless AlanNiece MotorsportsChevrolet46Running
121419Derek KrausMcAnally-Hilgemann RacingChevrolet46Running
132088Matt CraftonThorSport RacingToyota46Running
141802Kaz GralaYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet46Running
151744Kris WrightNiece MotorsportsChevrolet46Running
162261Chase PurdyHattori Racing EnterprisesToyota46Running
172815Tanner GrayDavid Gilliland RacingFord46Running
183130Tate FoglemanOn Point MotorsportsToyota46Running
19475Parker KligermanHenderson MotorsportsChevrolet46Running
203243Brad PérezReaume Brothers RacingToyota46Running
213433Will Rodgers*Reaume Brothers RacingToyota46Running
222556Timmy HillHill MotorsportsToyota46Running
233012Spencer BoydYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet46Running
242691Colby HowardMcAnally-Hilgemann RacingChevrolet46Running
2537Alex Bowman*Spire MotorsportsChevrolet46Running
26917Taylor GrayDavid Gilliland RacingFord46Running
271522Austin Wayne SelfAM RacingChevrolet45Running
282137Logan BeardenAM RacingChevrolet42Fuel Pump
293340Dean ThompsonNiece MotorsportsChevrolet40Running
301966Ty MajeskiThorSport RacingToyota39Running
313625Matt DiBenedettoRackley WARChevrolet32Rear Gear
322724Jack WoodGMS RacingChevrolet31DVP
333546Matt JaskolG2G RacingToyota30Electrical
34231Hailie DeeganDavid Gilliland RacingFord29Accident
35299Blaine PerkinsCR7 MotorsportsChevrolet3Transmission
36120Sheldon Creed*Young’s MotorsportsChevrolet1Drivetrain
DNQ79John AtwellAtwell RacingChevrolet
DNQ5Tyler HillHill MotorsportsToyota
DNQ47Samuel LecomteG2G RacingToyota
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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