Ty Majeski became the first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff contender to secure a spot for the Championship 4 Round finale at Phoenix Raceway after scoring his first career victory in the UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Thursday, September 15.
The 28-year-old Majeski from Seymour, Wisconsin, made his first appearance as the leader during a restart with 45 laps remaining after he overtook Playoff rival Zane Smith for the top spot. Despite enduring a final late-race restart with 12 laps remaining, he capitalized on the restart, holding off Smith to claim his first career victory within NASCAR’s top three national touring series. He also earned a one-way ticket to the finale, where he will contend for the 2022 Truck Series championship.
With on-track qualifying that determined the starting lineup occurring on Thursday, Derek Kraus claimed his second pole position of the season after posting a pole-winning lap at 125.264 in 15.276 seconds. Joining him on the front row was Playoff contender Chandler Smith, who posted the second-best qualifying lap at 125.584 mph in 15.279 seconds.
Prior to the event, Playoff contenders Zane Smith, Blaine Perkins, Chris Hacker and Josh Reaume dropped to the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments made to their respective trucks. In addition, Playoff contender John Hunter Nemechek started at the rear of the field in a backup truck after wrecking his primary truck during Thursday’s lone practice session.
When the green flag waved and the race started, Kraus launched ahead with an early advantage on the outside lane. With the field jostling early for positions, Kraus led the first lap ahead of Chandler Smith, Grant Enfinger and Stewart Friesen, who slipped in Turn 3 before slipping again in Turn 1 as he lost fourth to Ty Majeski before settling in front of rookie Corey Heim.
Through the first 10 scheduled laps, Kraus was leading by eight-tenths of a second over Chandler Smith followed by Enfinger, Majeski and Friesen while Heim, Christian Eckes, Matt DiBenedetto, Carson Hocevar and Bayley Currey were in the top 10. Tyler Ankrum was in 11th ahead of Ben Rhodes, Matt Crafton, Rajah Caruth and rookie Dean Thompson while John Hunter Nemechek and Zane Smith were mired back in 27th and 28th.
Ten laps later on Lap 20, Kraus continued to lead by exactly half a second over Chandler Smith while Enfinger, Majeski and Friesen settled in the top five. Meanwhile, Zane Smith and Nemechek remained mired in 27th and 28th, respectively, as Kraus started to navigate his way through lapped traffic.
Eight laps later, Chandler Smith, winner of last year’s Truck event at Bristol, moved his No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Toyota Tundra TRD Pro into the lead over Kraus’ No. 19 Incredible Bank Chevrolet Silverado RST in Turn 3. Behind, Enfinger was locked in a battle with Majeski and Friesen for third place while Heim, Eckes, DiBenedetto, Hocevar and Currey remained in the top 10. Two laps earlier, Spencer Boyd made contact with the outside wall in Turn 3, though the race remained under green.
Another nine laps later, however, the first caution of the event flew when Josh Reaume, who was lapped but racing in front of a handful of Playoff contenders, got loose underneath Blaine Perkins in between Turns 1 and 2, slipped and backed his truck into the outside wall in Turn 2. As Reaume’s truck slid below the apron, he was hit by a sliding Rajah Caruth, who tried to avoid hitting Reaume, as both trucks sustained significant damage.
During the caution period, names like Zane Smith, Nemechek, Jesse Little, Dean Thompson, Tanner Gray, Lawless Alan, Taylor Gray, Kaden Honeycutt, Parker Kligerman, Tyler Ankrum, Timmy Hill and Connor Mosack pitted while the rest led by Chandler Smith remained on the track. Following gate pit stops, Zane Smith pitted his No. 38 Speedco Ford F-150 for a second time to have his adjustments from his previous pit stop re-adjusted.
With eight laps remaining in the first stage, the race restarted under green. At the start, Chandler Smith retained the lead after starting on the outside lane while Friesen overtook Kraus for the runner-up spot. Behind, DiBenedetto and Enfinger battled for fourth in front of Majeski, Heim, Eckes, Currey and Hocevar.
When the first stage concluded on Lap 55, Chandler Smith captured his fourth stage victory of the 2022 season. Friesen settled in second, trailing Smith by four-tenths of a second, while Kraus, DiBenedetto, Enfinger, Majeski, Eckes, Heim, Currey and Matt Crafton were scored in the top 10. By then, Ben Rhodes was in 11th, Nemechek was back in 21st and Zane Smith was all the way back in 28th.
Under the stage break, names like Enfinger, DiBenedetto, Heim, Thompson, Hailie Deegan, Currey, rookie Jack Wood, Austin Wayne Self, Jake Garcia, Colby Howard, Timmy Hill, Leland Honeyman Jr. and Jesse Little pitted while the rest led by Chandler Smith, who has yet to pit, remained on the track. Following the pit stops, Wood was penalized for speeding on pit road.
The second stage started on Lap 65 as Chandler Smith and Friesen occupied the front row. At the start, Chandler Smith retained the lead with another strong start on the outside lane while Kraus reassumed the runner-up spot as Friesen, who spun the tires at the front, fell back to third in front of ThorSport Racing’s Rhodes, Majeski and Eckes.
By Lap 75, Chandler Smith was leading by half a second over Kraus while Friesen, Majeski, Eckes, Rhodes, Chase Purdy, Tanner Gray, Taylor Gray and Nemechek were in the top 10. By then, Zane Smith was in 14th and Enfinger was in 17th.
Ten laps later, the caution returned when Connor Mosack spun underneath Jesse Little in Turn 2. By then, DiBenedetto had pitted under green. During the caution period, names like Kraus, Deegan, Crafton, Enfinger, Majeski, Tyler Ankrum, Heim, Carson Hocevar, Austin Wayne Self and Bayley Currey pitted while the rest led by Chandler Smith remained on the track. Following the pit stops, Hocevar was penalized for speeding on pit road.
When the race proceeded under green on Lap 91, Chandler Smith rocketed with the lead while Friesen and Eckes battled for the runner-up spot in front of Rhodes and Taylor Gray. Shortly after, Friesen retained the runner-up spot ahead of Eckes as Rhodes and Taylor Gray also remained in the top five. Behind, Chase Purdy was up in sixth place while Tanner Gray, Nemechek, Zane Smith and Kaden Honeycutt were in the top 10.
At the halfway mark on Lap 100, Chandler Smith retained the lead by four-tenths of a second over Friesen while Eckes, Rhodes and Gray remained in the top five. By then, six of the eight remaining Playoff contenders were scored in the top 10 while Majeski and Enfinger were scored inside the top 15.
When the second stage concluded on Lap 110, Chandler Smith captured his fifth stage victory of the 2022 season and swept both stages of the night at Bristol. Friesen settled in second while Eckes, Rhodes, Taylor Gray, Purdy, Tanner Gray, Nemechek, Kaden Honeycutt and Zane Smith were scored in the top 10.
Under the stage break, a majority of the field led by Chandler Smith, who peeled off to pit road for the first time of the night as part of a one-stop strategy, pitted while the rest led by Zane Smith remained on the track.
With 79 laps remaining, the final stage started as Zane Smith and Kligerman occupied the front row. At the start, Zane Smith and Kligerman briefly duked for the lead as Smith prevailed on the inside lane to retain the lead. Shortly after, Majeski moved his No. 66 Road Ranger Toyota Tundra TRD Pro into the runner-up spot while Kligerman, who got shuffled and mired on the outside lane, was locked in a heated battle with Kraus for third place. Then a few laps later in Turn 4, Kraus and Kligerman made contact and slid up the track in Turn 1, which allowed Enfinger to overtake both for third place before Kligerman retained fourth ahead of Kraus, Hailie Deegan and Crafton.
With less than 70 laps remaining, Zane Smith was out in front by three-tenths of a second over Majeski followed by Enfinger, Kligerman, Kraus, Deegan, Crafton, Heim, Ankrum and Hocevar. Meanwhile, Chandler Smith was mired back in 12th behind Dean Thompson and in front of Friesen and Eckes, Nemechek was back in 17th and Rhodes was scored back in 20th. By then, Taylor Gray and Colby Howard made contact with one another while battling in the top 20, but the race proceeded under green.
Then with 50 laps remaining, the caution flew when Chris Hacker spun in between Turns 3 and 4 before coming to a rest below the apron after he got hit by the No. 98 CMR Construction & Roofing Toyota Tundra TRD Pro piloted by Playoff contender Eckes.
During the following restart with 44 laps remaining, Majeski received a strong start on the outside lane as he assumed the lead for the first time over Zane Smith while Kligerman battled and overtook Enfinger for third place while the field behind jostled for late positions.
With 35 laps remaining, Majeski was leading by more than a second over Zane Smith followed by Kligerman, Enfinger and Kraus while Crafton, Friesen, Chandler Smith, Tyler Ankrum and Deegan were in the top 10.
Down to the final 22 laps of the event, the caution returned when Tanner Gray made contact with Dean Thompson in Turn 3 that sent Thompson’s No. 40 WorldWide Express Chevrolet Silverado RST slipping below the apron and into the outside wall as he sustained significant rear-end damage. By then, Majeski had stabilized his advantage to more than a second over Zane Smith while Kligerman, Enfinger, Kraus, Crafton, Friesen, Chandler Smith, Ankrum and Deegan remained in the top 10. Meanwhile, Eckes was in 11th, Nemechek was back in 14th and Rhodes was mired in 17th.
During the following restart with 12 laps remaining, Majeski rocketed away with the lead on the outside lane while Zane Smith, who spun the tires on the inside lane, was left in a side-by-side battle with Kligerman for the runner-up spot. Smith, however, was able to clear Kligerman during the following lap as he reassumed second place while Enfinger moved up to fourth in front of Kraus and Friesen.
Down to the final 10 laps of the event, Majeski continued to lead by four-tenths of a second over Zane Smith and eight-tenths of a second over third-place Kligerman while everyone else behind jostled again for late positions.
With five laps remaining, Majeski stabilized his advantage to nearly a second over Zane Smith while Kligerman settled in third ahead of Enfinger and Crafton. By then, Chandler Smith, who dominated the first half of the event, was mired in ninth while Kraus, Friesen and Eckes were in sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.
When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Majeski remained as the leader by more than a second over Zane Smith. With Smith unable to close back the deficit, Majeski was able to navigate his way around Bristol for a final circuit as he cycled back to the frontstretch and claim his first checkered flag in the series.
With the victory, Majeski, who claimed his first Truck career win in his 40th series start, became the 120th different competitor to record a victory in the Truck Series as this marked the third consecutive season where the Truck Series Playoff event at Bristol featured a first-time winner. He also recorded the second victory of the season for ThorSport Racing and the 11th for Toyota as he joined Corey Heim as the only competitors to achieve their first Truck wins this season.
By clinching a spot for the Championship Round finale at Phoenix Raceway in November, Majeski will contend for his first NASCAR national touring series championship in his first full-time season in the Truck circuit and without having to place his focus towards the upcoming Round of 8 events at Talladega Superspeedway and at Homestead-Miami Speedway in October. Prior to his first victory, he had achieved three poles, three stage victories, eight top-five results, 13 top-10 results and an average-finishing result of 9.8 through the previous 19 scheduled events of 2022.
“Man, this is unbelievable,” Majeski said on FS1. “I’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this. [Owners] Duke, Rhonda Thorson, Allison [Thorson], thank you for this opportunity. Just so proud to be here. We came guns blazing for this race, took our best truck. [Crew chief] Joe [Shear Jr.] was aggressive on pit strategy. [It] Got us out front. We were able to get it done. This is so cool. My career’s been so up and down. There’s been a lot of people to help me get to this point. It’s so cool. I know my late model guys are watching back at the shop. They’re the big reason why I’m here. My parents, my fiancé. This is just so damn cool. Man, I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”
Meanwhile, Zane Smith rallied from starting at the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments made to his truck to finish in the runner-up spot for his seventh top-two finish of the season. The result was enough for Smith to leave Bristol in third place in the Playoff standings and 21 points above the top-four cutline to the finale.
“A good salvage of the night,” Smith said. “We worked on our Speedco Ford. The only chance we got, and I felt like went the right direction. I wished I could’ve done a few things different there. Obviously, take the top [lane]. [The] Top [lane] always launches better here. I was so bad if I was outside of the PJ1 [TrackBite] or wherever it is. I didn’t want to get freight-trained on the top. I tried matching [Majeski]. I did the first time and the second time, he just got me. He was just ultimately better than us, but [it was a] never give up kind of a night. That’s what it takes to get in the Final Four.”
Parker Kligerman emerged as the highest non-Playoff contender of the night after finishing in third place for his fourth top-five result of the season while Enfinger and Crafton finished in the top five.
“We qualified 28th legitimately on speed,” Kligerman said. “I think we just kind of stole a third-place finish, but I’m proud of everyone at Henderson Motorsports. We have now, I believe, at least I have finished in every position within the top five except for first at this racetrack. I wanna win here so bad, and I can see it. I can taste it. I feel like I can touch it, whether it’s dirt or concrete. We just can’t quite get there. Tonight, though, we got to be really proud because I think after practice and qualifying, I was legitimately worried that we were gonna be a lap down within 15 laps and be riding around this place. [Crew chief] Chris Carrier and everyone stuck it through. We found ourselves in the top five…We just didn’t have enough.”
Pole-sitter Kraus, Friesen, Eckes, Chandler Smith and Corey Heim completed the top 10 on the track. Nemechek and Rhodes were the two Playoff contenders to finish outside of the top 10 in 12th and 18th, respectively.
There were three lead changes for four different leaders. The race featured six cautions for 49 laps.
1. Ty Majeski, 45 laps led
2. Zane Smith, 39 laps led
3. Parker Kligerman
4. Grant Enfinger
5. Matt Crafton
6. Derek Kraus, 27 laps led
7. Stewart Friesen
8. Christian Eckes
9. Chandler Smith, 89 laps led, Stage 1 & 2 winner
10. Corey Heim
11. Tyler Ankrum
12. John Hunter Nemechek
13. Kaden Honeycutt
14. Hailie Deegan
15. Bayley Currey
16. Taylor Gray
17. Tanner Gray
18. Ben Rhodes
19. Carson Hocevar
20. Austin Wayne Self
21. Jack Wood
22. Jake Garcia
23. Lawless Alan
24. Colby Howard
25. Jesse Little
26. Timmy Hill
27. Matt DiBenedetto, one lap down
28. Blaine Perkins, three laps down
29. Leland Honeyman Jr., five laps down
30. Chase Purdy, seven laps down
31. Connor Mosack, eight laps down
32. Dean Thompson – OUT, Accident
33. Chris Hacker – OUT, Suspension
34. Rajah Caruth – OUT, Accident
35. Josh Reaume – OUT, Accident
36. Spencer Boyd – OUT, Accident
*Bold indicates Playoff contenders
1. Ty Majeski – Advanced
2. Chandler Smith +24
3. Zane Smith +21
4. Stewart Frisen. +9
5. John Hunter Nemechek -9
6. Christian Eckes -13
7. Grant Enfinger -15
8. Ben Rhodes -18
The second Round of 8 event of the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs will occur at Talladega Superspeedway on October 1 with the event’s coverage to commence at 12:30 p.m. ET on FS1.