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Zane Smith entered the final race of the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Round of 8 with a precarious 12-point cushion as the last driver above the cut line. After the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 at Martinsville Speedway, he advanced to the Championship 4 as the lone driver to make it via the points standings.
Smith started the race in second place but led the opening 11 laps. When the first stage ended, he was in fourth place, gaining seven valuable stage points. He then failed to score any points in the second stage, leaving him in a tight points battle with Matt Crafton.
When the checkered flag flew, Grant Enfinger was the race winner, leaving only one available Championship 4 berth for drivers via the points standings. Smith finished third, two spots ahead of reigning Truck Series champion Crafton.
Crafton finished fifth and first in the first two stages, respectively, accruing 16 points. However, he trailed Smith in the wins category, two to one.
As a result of his two wins at Michigan International Speedway and Dover International Speedway, Smith earned 10 playoff points and carried 22 playoff points throughout the playoffs. Crafton on the other hand only won at the second race at Kansas Speedway and had nine playoff points in the bank. Those points made the difference in the tight-knit competition between the two drivers. Smith made the Championship 4 by only three points ahead of Crafton.
“My first trip to Martinsville; everything I expected plus more,” Smith told FOX Sports 1 post-race. “I, unfortunately, had to play it safe all night. I really wanted to join the fun there, especially when the No. 13 (Johnny Sauter) punted me out of the way. I wanted to get him back pretty bad but I maintained my cool and my team never gave up. That’s the story of our year. These guys deserve a championship. I can’t wait to get to Phoenix, it’s such a good racetrack for me. Awesome night.”
— GMS Racing (@GMSRacingLLC) October 31, 2020
The 21-year-old Smith is only a rookie in the Truck Series, but he has been reflective of his success thus far this year.
“That’s just things that build up throughout the year,” Smith told media members in a post-race Zoom call. “That’s what a lot of my emotion came from, at Michigan. It’s embarrassing for me to do that on TV but it’s real at that point. I can’t wait. I know at the final four I get to have guests and family at Phoenix. So for my family to see me compete for a championship will very special.”
Smith has competed at Phoenix Raceway, the site of the Championship 4, in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, ARCA Menards Series and ARCA Menards Series West.
In his three starts there, he has two top fives and two top 10s. He finished fifth there in his Xfinity Series start last year. In the inaugural ARCA race there this year, Smith led nine laps en route to a fifth-place finish.
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