On a track strewn with spinning trucks and broken hearts, Zane Smith catapulted into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship 4 with a thrilling overtime victory in Saturday’s United Rentals 200 at Martinsville Speedway.
In a no-holds-barred race that featured 14 cautions for 89 laps, Smith won under yellow after he, Stewart Friesen and Todd Gilliland raced three-wide—yes, three-wide at Martinsville—off Turn 4 on the first lap of overtime.
Contact from Friesen’s Toyota sent Gilliland’s Ford spinning across the start/finish line to start the final lap. As Friesen moved down the track to contest the lead with Smith, contact between the two trucks spun Friesen’s Silverado into the Turn 1 wall.
With the track blocked by spinning trucks behind Smith, NASCAR called the final caution, and Smith took the checkered flag under yellow.
Smith’s victory—his first at Martinsville, his first of the season and the third of his career—was heartbreak for his GMS Racing teammate, Sheldon Creed, the reigning 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 make the Championship 4 by four points.
Smith hasn’t been told whether he’ll return to GMS Racing next year, a point he made when he climbed from 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 promise for next Friday’s championship race at Phoenix.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to win the damn thing,” he said.
Camping World Truck Series Regular Season Champion John Hunter Nemechek survived a hard wreck on lap 130 after Austin Wayne Self hooked him on the backstretch and turned the No. 4 Toyota hard into the outside wall. Nemechek and Crafton made the final four by four points, joining Smith and Ben Rhodes in next Friday’s championship race.
“He shouldn’t be out here if he’s just going to hook someone in the right rear and turn them in the fence,” said Nemechek, who had bumped Self’s Chevrolet in Turn 1 moments before the wreck.
“NASCAR should definitely look at that. It’s Playoff contention. You’ve got to have respect and he doesn’t. It is what it is. Hopefully we make it to the final four and we definitely will have something for them in Phoenix…
“My motto coming into this was ‘survive and advance.’ We didn’t survive, but we advanced.”
Knocked out of the Playoffs with Creed were Friesen, who finished 17th and Sunoco rookies Chandler Smith and Carson Hocevar.
“On one of the last restarts, he just drove into the 98 (Enfinger), his own teammate, and I ended up getting swept into the fence because of it,” Creed said. “Went back to 23rd and drove back up and finished ninth, I guess. It’s just frustrating.”
In an earlier incident on Lap 185, Enfinger had turned Crafton in Turn 4, but Crafton escaped damaged with a deft move after a 360-degree spin and salvaged a fifth-place finish.
Gilliland led a race-high 133 of 204 laps but couldn’t survive the final restart when Smith used his bumper to get beneath Gilliland’s Ford in the first corner.
In the wild finish, Austin Hill was credited with second, followed by Tanner Gray, Chandler Smith and Crafton.
–NASCAR Wire Service
2021 NASCAR Playoff Race Weekend
Today’s NASCAR Playoffs doubleheader continues with the Dead On Tools 250 Xfinity Series Playoff race at 6:00 p.m. On Sunday at 2:00 p.m., the NASCAR Cup Series’ Championship 4 will be set in the Xfinity 500.
NASCAR race tickets are available for purchase via phone at 877-RACE-TIX or online at martinsvillespeedway.com.
About Martinsville Speedway
Founded by H. Clay Earles in 1947, Martinsville Speedway is the only NASCAR track to host NASCAR Cup Series races every year since its inception in 1949. At .526 miles in length, the track annually hosts two NASCAR race weekends featuring the NASCAR Cup Series, along with NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races in the fall. Martinsville Speedway also annually hosts the ValleyStar Credit Union 300, the nation’s biggest, richest and most prestigious NASCAR Late Model Stock Car race. For more information about Martinsville Speedway, visit martinsvillespeedway.com.
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™), four regional series (ARCA Menards Series, ARCA Menards Series East & West and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour), one local grassroots series (NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series) and three international series (NASCAR Pinty’s Series, NASCAR Peak Mexico Series, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. For more information visit www.NASCAR.com and www.IMSA.com, and follow NASCAR on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).