Zane Smith captured the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular-season championship with a 13th-place finish at Pocono Raceway on Saturday, July 23.
The 23-year-old Smith from Huntington Beach, California, entered Saturday’s event at Pocono with a 58-point advantage over both John Hunter Nemechek and Chandler Smith prior to the event. His weekend started on a high note after he was awarded the pole position when rain washed out Friday’s qualifying session, which forced NASCAR to establish the starting lineup by the rulebook.
During the main event, however, Smith did not lead a lap during the first stage which was comprised of 15 laps. Nonetheless, Smith, who only needed two recorded points to capture the regular season title, accomplished his task with a sixth-place run in the first stage. For the remainder of the event, he earned more stage points after finishing eighth in the second stage which was also comprised of 15 laps.
After pitting prior to the final stage, Smith, who was mired in the second half of the leaderboard, encountered throttle issues as he made multiple pit stops with less than 20 laps remaining to address the issue. Restarting near the end of the lead lap for a 14-lap dash to the finish, he managed to carve his way back to 13th place when the checkered flag flew, which was enough for him to wrap up the regular-season title by 40 points over Pocono race winner, Chandler Smith, and 45 points over third-place finisher Nemechek.
With his accomplishment, Zane Smith became the sixth different competitor to win a Camping World Truck Series regular-season championship, joining a list that includes Christopher Bell, Johnny Sauter, Grant Enfinger, Austin Hill and John Hunter Nemechek.
By capturing this year’s regular-season title, Smith, who accumulated 616 points throughout the 16-race regular-season stretch along with 22 Playoff points and seven stage victories, was also awarded an additional 15 Playoff points for winning his first regular-season title. He now enters the 2022 Truck Series Playoffs as one of 10 competitors who will embark on a seven-race stretch to battle for the 2022 Truck Series title, beginning next weekend at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, and with a 15-point advantage over Chandler Smith.
“A huge props to [Front Row Motorsports] and all our sponsors involved throughout this regular season,” Smith said on FOX. “Man, today was a major struggle. Started out with the green flag to pretty much the end of Stage 2, our throttle was ticking. Everything that we were doing wasn’t fixing it, so a little worried there at times because I knew that I just had to have a couple points, and you see [Chandler Smith] up there. Long, long day. Once we did get it right, [I] still fought a really, really tight truck. There’s no giving up. This race is just so short to try to get your truck right, but I’m glad we’re on to the Playoffs and ready to get this [Playoff] season started.”
Smith is campaigning in his third full-time season in the Truck Series, but the first with Front Row Motorsports following a two-year run at GMS Racing. He began his first event with FRM on a high note by winning the 2022 season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway in February, which gave him the regular-season points lead and a guaranteed spot in the 2022 Truck Playoffs. Despite finishing in the runner-up spot during the following scheduled event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March, Smith’s result was stripped due to his truck failing post-race inspection, where he lost the points lead. He rebounded by winning at Circuit of the Americas in March and at Kansas Speedway in May. Following a strong runner-up result at Nashville Superspeedway in June, Smith reassumed the points lead, which he never relinquished. To go along with his three regular-season victories, Smith has finished in the top 10 in all but three of the 16 regular-season events.
Through 62 career starts in the Truck Series, Smith has achieved six victories, a pole, 20 top-five results, 41 top-10 results, 854 laps led and an average-finishing result of 10.9. He has also finished in the runner-up spot in the final standings during the previous two seasons.
Zane Smith’s pursuit for his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship commences next Friday, July 29, at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. The event is scheduled to occur at 9 p.m. ET on FS1.