Zane Smith continues his streak with a fiery win at Circuit Of The Americas

AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 25: Zane Smith, driver of the #38 Speedco/Peak Ford, and Ty Majeski, driver of the #98 Cincinnati/Curb Records Ford, race during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series XPEL 225 at Circuit of The Americas on March 25, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Zane Smith knows how to get around in Austin. He took his second consecutive victory around Circuit Of The Americas, a track purpose-built for Formula One racing, in Saturday’s XPEL 225 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race.

Smith was so enthusiastic in his burnout against the wall of the frontstretch that the mudflaps in the rear of his truck caught fire and had to be extinguished by the track safety crew.

“Catching on fire in Victory Lane,” remarked Smith, “that’s a first for me. Man, that’s a bummer right there.”


That excitement came from beating Kyle Busch across the line by 5.451 seconds as the two-time Cup Series champion clawed through the field after starting 17th on a restart on lap 30 of 42. Despite climbing all the way to second by lap 36, Busch couldn’t track down Smith, who actually strung out his lead as the race went on.

“Shout out to Chris Lawson for an amazing strategy,” said Smith of his crew chief. “It was fast when it mattered.”

“I just enjoy coming to all the road courses, especially here,” he added. “So cool. Just a true testament to this team.”

“Once we got to that eight-to-go point and I was told Kyle was in second, my heart rate went up a little bit, just because he’s so good at managing his stuff when it mattered,” Smith continued. “So, I just tried not to make any mistakes.”

AUSTIN, TEXAS – MARCH 25: Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Zariz Transport Chevrolet, and Ross Chastain, driver of the #41 Worldwide Express Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series XPEL 225 at Circuit of The Americas on March 25, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Busch was pushed out of sequence by a caution, and he wasn’t able to get on pit road when Smith and others were.

“Played the long game and unfortunately the long game didn’t work, they got lucky and beat us,” is how he summed up that strategy call.

He and polesitter Ross Chastain, a fellow Cup Series winner, led 22 laps early in the race to Smith’s race-high 16. Chastain, who was also on Busch’s strategy and went as far back as 28th in the lap 30 restart, ended up fifth behind Ty Majeski and Tyler Ankrum.

Smith’s ninth career win in the Truck Series puts him in the driver standings lead by two-points on ThorSport Racing’s Ty Majeski heading into the next race, the 250 next Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway (4:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Photos: NASCAR at COTA Saturday March 25, 2023

NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Race – XPEL 225
Circuit of The Americas
Austin, Texas
Saturday, March 25, 2023

1. (7) Zane Smith, Ford, 42.
2. (2) Kyle Busch(i), Chevrolet, 42.
3. (3) Ty Majeski, Ford, 42.
4. (12) Tyler Ankrum, Toyota, 42.
5. (1) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 42.
6. (11) Corey Heim, Toyota, 42.
7. (4) Nick Sanchez #, Chevrolet, 42.
8. (9) Tanner Gray, Toyota, 42.
9. (10) Kaz Grala(i), Toyota, 42.
10. (13) Ben Rhodes, Ford, 42.
11. (19) Taylor Gray, Toyota, 42.
12. (8) Grant Enfinger, Chevrolet, 42.
13. (20) Rajah Caruth #, Chevrolet, 42.
14. (15) Stewart Friesen, Toyota, 42.
15. (24) Kaden Honeycutt, Ford, 42.
16. (16) Hailie Deegan, Ford, 42.
17. (18) Lawless Alan, Chevrolet, 42.
18. (36) Daniel Dye #, Chevrolet, 42.
19. (32) Jake Garcia #, Chevrolet, 42.
20. (25) Colin Garrett, Toyota, 42.
21. (35) Kris Wright, Chevrolet, 42.
22. (14) Logan Bearden, Ford, 42.
23. (31) Bret Holmes #, Chevrolet, 42.
24. (27) Colby Howard, Chevrolet, 42.
25. (29) Timmy Hill, Toyota, 42.
26. (30) Mason Filippi, Ford, 42.
27. (21) Chase Purdy, Chevrolet, 42.
28. (33) Dale Quarterley, Toyota, 42.
29. (28) Matt DiBenedetto, Chevrolet, 41.
30. (5) Christian Eckes, Chevrolet, Suspension, 31.
31. (17) Parker Kligerman(i), Chevrolet, Electrical, 26.
32. (26) Spencer Boyd, Chevrolet, Electrical, 12.
33. (34) Matt Crafton, Ford, Accident, 11.
34. (6) Carson Hocevar, Chevrolet, Axle, 8.
35. (22) Dean Thompson, Toyota, Accident, 4.
36. (23) Ed Jones, Chevrolet, Suspension, 0.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 77 mph.
Time of Race: 1 Hrs, 51 Mins, 36 Secs. Margin of Victory: 5.451 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 3 for 5 laps.
Lead Changes: 9 among 5 drivers.
Lap Leaders: R. Chastain(i) 1-2;K. Busch(i) 3;R. Chastain(i) 4-8;Z. Smith 9;C. Eckes 10-12;T. Majeski 13;K. Busch(i) 14-19;R. Chastain(i) 20-22;K. Busch(i) 23-27;Z. Smith 28-42.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Zane Smith 2 times for 16 laps; Kyle Busch(i) 3 times for 12 laps; Ross Chastain(i) 3 times for 10 laps; Christian Eckes 1 time for 3 laps; Ty Majeski 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 19,98,11,1,51,41,16,38,99,25
Stage #2 Top Ten: 51,38,45,52,75,13,41,04,99,2

Owen Johnson