Zane Smith can have alternatives after the NASCAR Truck Collection championship

Any would-be NASCAR Cup Collection driver, to be taken significantly, cannot simply win races in a improvement collection.

The driving force must win races in high-pressure conditions, particularly when that driver has arguably the perfect automotive.

Zane Smith was in a position to examine that field when he received the most important race of his profession, the 2022 NASCAR Tenting World Truck Collection championship on November 4 at Phoenix Raceway.

He went from third to first on the ultimate restart after which stopped two drivers on his bumper and beside him by daring him to make a mistake.

He did not. The 23-year-old displayed the maturity and ability that make Cup groups noticeable and can have many homeowners watching him it doesn’t matter what he says Thursday evening on the nationwide collection awards ceremony NASCAR in Nashville.

Few doubt that Smith has a future within the sport. However that is been mentioned so much a few truck collection champion. No truck champion has ever constructed on that success to win a Cup championship later in his profession. Kurt Busch is the one truck Rookie of the 12 months to win a Cup title.

Drivers who’ve received truck titles have gone to Cup and received races, however the championship has eluded them.

Zane Smith wins the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship after beating Ben Rhodes in a wild overtime finish.

Zane Smith wins the 2022 NASCAR Tenting World Truck Collection Championship after beating Ben Rhodes in a wild time beyond regulation end.

Smith, who made his Cup debut final June when Brad Keselowski tapped him to interchange the ailing Chris Buescher at Gateway, is on a path that can make folks consider he’ll ultimately have an opportunity to win Cup races and presumably the title.

When he makes an attempt to make it to the Daytona 500 subsequent February, few will doubt that he doesn’t belong among the many 40 drivers competing within the sport’s all-star occasion due to his superspeedway prowess and the poise he displayed in ending seventeenth in his debut. within the Cup..

Smith will stay a full-time driver within the truck collection in 2023, however Entrance Row Motorsports proprietor Bob Jenkins is aware of from what he noticed final yr, and particularly in Phoenix, that he has a driver whose expertise present potential. what’s incorrect with it. he’s wanted to carry out on the game’s greatest stage.

“Bob Jenkins was going to get both a smashed plate or a championship trophy on the finish of the day,” mentioned Smith, who completed second within the standings in 2020 and 2021. “He wasn’t going to lose one other one.”

“It has marked me an excessive amount of.”

Whereas it is apparent that being in a truck championship isn’t any assure of success on the highest ranges of NASCAR. However Smith has extra than simply dangerous recollections which have fueled him and sure will proceed to gasoline him. In vehicles, he drove two seasons for GMS Racing and completed second within the standings. The second yr at GMS was a bit surprising as he got here on-line to interchange Kyle Larson at Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2021 season.

He ended up staying at GMS and then found himself without transportation in early November 2021.

“I went from my first year in trucks to winning a couple races my rookie season, possibly getting a shot in a Cup car, and I thought that was crazy,” Smith said.

“So last year [in 2021], I felt that we were very fast but we had problems in the execution. I felt like everything happened to us that year, and we were still able to advance to the final four.”

When he finished second to Ben Rhodes in the championship in 2021, Smith had no trip for 2022. Front Row’s deal didn’t go through until late November.

Zane Smith's full celebration after winning the Truck Series Championship

Zane Smith’s full celebration after winning the Truck Series Championship

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By the time he won the title in 2022, he already knew he had a deal with Front Row to do a handful of Cup races in 2023 and potentially some Xfinity races on top of the full truck schedule.

“I have literally stood in [the Phoenix] park three years in a row without knowing what I’m going to do next year,” Smith said. I knew I would get into this, because I’ve been through much worse times,… [It’s] just crazy where i am mentally and how well things are going in my life right now. I’m just trying to ride it for as long as I can.”

Whether Front Row can keep Smith past 2023 remains to be determined. But they have a plan to get him to Cup and know he has a unique comfort factor with the team. He has clicked with the Front Row truck team and Front Row could potentially use that group as a potential unit to continue to work alongside Smith as much as possible.

“Obviously we saw Zane’s talent driving for GMS and winning races and getting so close to winning the championship … and we thought as we get more and more serious about the Truck Series, it’s to develop whether he’s a driver, whether he’s a crew chief or an engineer or whatever for our Cup programs,” Front Row Motorsports general manager Jerry Freeze said.

“So we saw Zane as someone who could potentially drive our Cup car in the future.”

Smith’s 2023 schedule as it pertains to Cup play has not been set beyond the Daytona 500.

“We should know what the races are in the next two weeks,” Smith said earlier this month. “I think it will be five or six races, which I think is good. Front Row is not a big race store.”

“There’s one truck out of it right now. I don’t want it to be too much for the truck team or the race team in general, so I’m excited about what we’re doing and I’m ready.” come back, as crazy as it sounds to say this, but get back to racing on Sunday.”

Thinking out loud

While in Nashville for the awards this week, there will be a lot of talk about Bristol’s proposal to renovate and operate Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. There will be at least two public comment hearings over the next five weeks.

It’s tempting for people to say that those in the area shouldn’t have gone near the freeway if they didn’t want to worry about traffic and noise.

But some of those people likely moved there when they thought the track would be closed, as was rumored for several years until the 2011 charter amendment, where voters decided that Nashville Fairgrounds would continue its activities, including racing.

Even so, the fact is that it is public land. The city owns the land and track. If you live there, you should have a say in how your tax dollars and land near your home are used. If enough people don’t want the racetrack in their community, then it’s up to elected leaders to decide if it’s still worth the revenue and tourism dollars that could potentially be generated.

While it’s easy to make fun of people who may not have all the facts when they voice their discontent, it shouldn’t go unnoticed that this is the way public boards work. People on the boards will hear from Bristol and other executives who want to challenge what the owners say.

A vibrant discussion of the benefits and impact on the community is a good thing. And those tempted to dismiss people out of concern for their quality of life is not something a sport that hopes to be accommodating and open-minded should dismiss outright.

social focus

they said it

“We have an authentic, historic track from 1905… We never should have let it get invested enough. This is our way to make it a community asset for all.”

—Nashville Mayor John Cooper on the proposed Bristol-Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway

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Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the last 30 Daytona 500, with stints on ESPN, Sporting News, the NASCAR Scene Magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrassand enroll within the FOX Sports activities NASCAR Publication with Bob Pockrass.

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