Zane Smith jumps into Championship race 4 with victory at Martinsville | Sportsxchange

On a track dotted with spinning trucks and broken hearts, Zane Smith catapulted himself into Championship 4 with a thrilling overtime victory on Saturday in the United Rentals 200 at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.

In a no-limit race that featured 14 warnings for 89 laps, Smith won under the yellow after he, Stewart Friesen and Todd Gilliland ran three widths – yes, three widths at Martinsville – out of Turn 4 in the first lap of overtime.

Friesen’s Toyota contact sent Gilliland’s Ford spinning across the start / finish line to start the final lap. As Friesen descended the track to challenge the lead with Smith, the contact between the two trucks spun Friesen’s Silverado into the wall at Turn 1.

With the track blocked by rotating trucks behind Smith, NASCAR called the final warning and Smith took the checkered flag below the yellow.

Smith’s victory – his first at Martinsville, his first of the season and the third of his career – was heartbreaking for his GMS Racing teammate, Sheldon Creed, the defending series champion. Late in the race, Creed slapped the outside wall in an incident involving Matt Crafton and Grant Enfinger, finished ninth and failed to earn 4 points in the championship.

Smith was not told if he would return to GMS Racing next year, a point he made when he stepped out of his No.21 Chevrolet.

“I’m looking for a job right now,” Smith said. “I have nothing, so it’s a good day.”

Smith added a pledge for next Friday’s championship race in Phoenix.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to win this damn thing,” he said.

Regular season champion John Hunter Nemechek survived a tough wreck on lap 130 after Austin Wayne Self hooked him up on the back stretch and turned the No.4 Toyota hard into the outside wall. Nemechek and Crafton reached the last four points by four points, joining Smith and Ben Rhodes in next Friday’s championship race.

“He shouldn’t be here if he just wants to hook someone in the right-back and turn them into the fence,” said Nemechek, who had struck Self’s Chevrolet in Turn 1 moments before the sinking.

“NASCAR should definitely look at that. It’s a playoff claim. You have to respect and it doesn’t. That’s what it is. I hope we qualify for the last four and that we will certainly have something for them in Phoenix. …

“My motto when entering this project was ‘survive and move forward’. We did not survive, but we moved forward.”

Friesen, who finished 17th, and rookies Sunoco Chandler Smith and Carson Hocevar were eliminated from the playoffs with Creed.

“On one of the last restarts he just drove in the 98 (Enfinger) his own teammate and I ended up getting dragged into the fence because of it,” Creed said. “I came back to 23rd place, came back up and finished ninth I guess. It’s just frustrating.”

In an incident prior to Lap 185, Enfinger had transformed Crafton on Lap 4, but Crafton escaped damage with a deft movement after a 360-degree spin and reclaimed a fifth place finish.

Gilliland led a record 133 out of 204 laps, but couldn’t survive the final restart when Smith used his bumper to slip under Gilliland’s Ford in the first corner.

In the wild finish, Austin Hill was credited with second place, followed by Tanner Gray, Chandler Smith and Crafton.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race – 23rd Annual United Rentals 200

Saturday, October 30, 2021

1. (9) Zane Smith (P), Chevrolet, 204.

2. (10) Austin Hill, Toyota, 204.

3. (27) Tanner Gray, Ford, 204.

4. (6) Chandler Smith (P), Toyota, 204.

5. (5) Matt Crafton (P), Toyota, 204.

6. (30) Parker Kligerman, Toyota, 204.

7. (3) Ben Rhodes (P), Toyota, 204.

8. (39) Taylor Gray, Ford, 204.

9. (4) Sheldon Creed (P), Chevrolet, 204.

10. (24) Timmy Hill, Chevrolet, 204.

11. (28) Corey Heim, Toyota, 204.

12. (8) Carson Hocevar # (P), Chevrolet, 204.

13. (26) Kris Wright #, Chevrolet, 204.

14. (14) Danny Bohn, Toyota, 204.

15. (18) Spencer Boyd, Chevrolet, 204.

16. (37) Chris Hacker, Chevrolet, 204.

17. (7) Stewart Friesen (P), Toyota, 204.

18. (12) Tate Fogleman, Chevrolet, 204.

19. (23) Hailie Deegan #, Ford, 204.

20. (21) Austin Wayne Self, Chevrolet, 204.

21. (15) Grant Enfinger, Toyota, 204.

22. (20) Bret Holmes, Chevrolet, 204.

23. (33) Dawson Cram, Chevrolet, 204.

24. (17) Derek Kraus, Toyota, 204.

25. (2) Todd Gilliland, Ford, 203.

26. (19) Tyler Ankrum, Chevrolet, 203.

27. (34) Jack Wood, Chevrolet, 203.

28. (25) Josh Berry (i), Chevrolet, 203.

29. (36) Spencer Davis, Toyota, 202.

30. (38) Jesse Iwuji, Toyota, 202.

31. (22) Johnny Sauter, Toyota, 201.

32. (31) Sage Karam (i), Chevrolet, 200.

33. (11) Ryan Truex, Chevrolet, 198.

34. (35) Josh Reaume, Toyota, 198.

35. (40) Roger Réuse, Ford, 193.

36. (32) Jennifer Jo Cobb, Ford, 190.

37. (16) Cory Roper, Ford, 188.

38. (29) Colby Howard (i), Chevrolet, 174.

39. (1) John Hunter Nemechek (P), Toyota, Accident, 129.

40. (13) Chase Purdy #, Chevrolet, rear axle, 33.

Race winner average speed: 56.402 mph.

Running time: 1 hr, 54 mins, 9 sec. Margin of victory: Under Caution Seconds.

Caution flags: 14 for 89 laps.

Lead changes: 10 out of 4 pilots.

Tour Leaders: T. Gilliland 1-71; J. Nemechek (P) 72-73; T. Gilliland 74-105; Z. Smith (P) 106-109; C. Hocevar # (P) 110-111; Z. Smith (P) 112-122; C. Hocevar # (P) 123-124; Z. Smith (P) 125-173; T. Gilliland 174-203; Z. Smith (P) 204.

Summary of the leaders (driver, time leader, lap leader): Todd Gilliland 3 times for 133 laps; Zane Smith (P) 4 times for 65 laps; Carson Hocevar # (P) 2 times for 4 laps; John Hunter Nemechek (P) 1 time for 2 laps.

Top 10 of the first stage: 38,2,4,99,88,21,52,13,42,16

Top 10 of the second stage: 38,4,2,13,88,99,17,21,42,52

–By Reid Spencer, NASCAR NewsWire, Special for Field Media

About Laurence Johnson

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