Zane Smith inherited the win in double overtime when a three-wide move for the lead went horribly wrong on Saturday at Circuit of the Americas.
Zane Smith finished first at the Circuit of The Americas road track on Saturday afternoon. He led only 11 of the 46 laps in the XPEL 225 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, winning Stage 1, Stage 2, and then taking the lead with two laps remaining in the second overtime period to win.
It was Smith’s second win of the 2022 season – and his fifth overall – as well as his Front Row Motorsports team’s second consecutive victory at the 3.41-mile, 20-turn COTA circuit, which he shared with Todd Gilliland last year.
Kyle Busch led 31 of the 46 laps over the permanent road circuit and was desperate to stretch his fuel to the finish when the race went awry. Alex Bowman moved up from third to join Stewart Friesen, who attempted to intercept the pass by diving inside Busch.
As the drivers dived into a curve, all three vehicles were side by side. The trucks went off course due to their inability to maneuver through, and Smith sped past the leaders to take over the lead.
Smith was able to get away from the competitors, despite Busch and Bowman’s attempts to reclaim position. He won his fifth race of his career and his second in four races this season. Smith also won the season-opening race for Front Row Motorsports at Daytona.
On the first lap of the final overtime, Kyle Busch had the lead. But his closest rivals, Stewart Friesen and Alex Bowman, charged hard into the Turn 11 hairpin, making it a three-wide door-to-door battle for the lead from Busch, the series’ all-time winner.
While everything was going on, Smith, a 22-year-old Californian, just drove underneath the halted trio, taking the lead, and then holding off John Hunter Nemechek for a 3.529-second victory.
“Once I got back up there, I was doing my best to read how those guys were racing,” said Smith, who drives the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford.
“It happened like that in such dramatic fashion and had to come from the back, it‘s just a huge statement for this team really. Every single race this year I‘ve been in contention to win.”
“This whole team, just awesome to see how it all worked out,” he added. “Scored some awesome points today.”
Busch battled back to finish third, followed by Ben Rhodes, the 2021 series winner, and Busch’s teammate Chandler Smith. The top ten were Christian Eckes, Tyler Ankrum, Carson Hocevar, Friesen, and Grant Enfinger.
It would have been Friesen’s first win in the series since 2019 and Hocevar’s first career triumph if his gutsy charge to the front had paid off.
Hocevar was also running among the top three late in the race but was shoved back in the frantic restart action. Parker Kligerman, who had been in the top five for most of the afternoon, ran out of gas as well and ended 19th.
There were ten lead changes among the eight drivers in the race, as well as eight caution periods.
The top-five effort keeps Smith and Rhodes in a close race for the championship. Smith has a 15-point lead against Rhodes presently.
The series takes a break before returning to action on April 7 at Martinsville Speedway in the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 200.