Two quick rain cautions in the first 10 laps may have been a warning for what was to come in Friday night’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series opener at Daytona, won by Zane Smith.
Rain caused the race to end early at 79 laps, with Smith the winner. He endured 41 caution laps and just 38 green-flag laps to win the Truck opener for the second year in a row after leading 17 laps.
When there wasn’t rain, there was wrecking.
The first wreck knocked Clay Greenfield, Dean Thompson and Hailie Deegan were knocked out of the race in a Lap 30 multi-truck wreck on the frontstretch.
“It was getting kind of crazy and, earlier that lap, I backed out of it but I don’t know if I got touched or what happened. I just hate that happened, we really look forward to races like these,” Greenfield said.
“The wreck happened and I couldn’t do anything. What happened, happened. It’s frustrating because I got an opportunity with Toyota and if you look at where I came from [Niece Motorsports], I wanted to prove myself to y’all. It’s just frustrating,” Thompson said frustratingly, also looking ahead to Darlington, his favorite track.
“I saw the 84 [of Greenfield] get sideways and I made a split-second decision. They bounced back up the track so it is what it is. Daytona is one of those places where you end up in victory lane or on the wrecker.”
After the first wreck, it misted heavily under that caution and provoked two separate red-flag periods.
On Lap 41, Stewart Friesen, Parker Kligerman, Brett Holmes and Codie Rohrbaugh were taken out on a backstretch wreck that involved others and ended Stage 2.
On Lap 59, a turn 3 wreck finished off Daniel Dye and Rajah Caruth and involved others.
Finally, after 10 laps under a Lap 69 caution for rain, a one-hour red flag and a tease to a return to racing, Zane Smith emerged as the winner.
Smith bested Tanner Gray, Christian Eckes, Colby Howard, Grant Enfinger, Ty Majeski, Tyler Ankrum, Corey Heim, Matt Crafton and Chase Elliott.
COMMENTS FROM THE TOP 3 FINISHERS
“I just kind of hung around right behind them and waited for their mistakes, and obviously I didn’t know the rain was going to come and shorten the race, but I knew that how we kept coming in and topping off that we were setting ourselves up to lead that final stage. That’s what we did,” Smith said.
“Just really had to focus on getting the truck fixed, then trying to get our lap back. Overall with the rain, going back green there, I was a little bit nervous just because I didn’t feel like I was going to be able to push as well as what I probably needed to to be in contention to win, but with that being said, there’s a lot of things that happen, and everything kind of gets wild at the end,” Gray said.
“I feel like I’m going to have to write a book one day, a thousand ways how to lose a speedway race. Last year we lost two of them on a green-white-checkered, this year we lost them due to rain. I felt like we had a really fast No. 19 NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet, and yeah, that sucks. I wish we could have finished it out,” Eckes said.
Stage 1 Top 10: Christian Eckes, Matt Crafton, Matt DiBenedetto, Hailie Deegan, Nick Sanchez, Ty Majeski, Carson Hocevar, Tanner Gray, Jack Wood, Grant Enfinger
Stage 2 Top 10: Tyler Ankrum, Chase Purdy, Crafton, Sanchez, Eckes, Enfinger, Ben Rhodes, Majeski, Hocevar, Wood
There were 20 lead changes among 9 drivers:
Christian Eckes: 19 laps led, Corey LaJoie: 19, Smith: 17, Tyler Ankrum: 15, Colby Howard: 2, Ty Majeski: 2, Matt Crafton: 2, Stewart Friesen: 2, Chase Purdy: 1)