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Making a case for each NASCAR Trucks Championship 4 contender

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season ends Friday night with the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix Raceway.

Racing for the championship is Zane Smith, Chandler Smith, Ben Rhodes and Ty Majeski.

Chandler Smith hangs on to win CRC Brakleen 150 at Pocono
Photo: TRE

Zane Smith has had the best, consistent performance of the four championship contenders and the experience to boot.

Zane made it to the Championship 4 after racking up 37 playoff points in his regular-season championship run and the first playoff round. He leads the field in not only playoff points but also wins, top-5 finishes, top-10s, average finishes and Championship 4 appearances.

2022 is Zane’s third Championship 4 appearance, which is more than the other championship contender.

In each of his first two appearances, Zane has finished second in the championship but he starts first for the championship race. With the average start of an NCWTS winner at Phoenix being 3.61, he’s in prime contention to finally do one spot better in the championship.

Zane Smith starts on the pole and was 2nd fastest in practice with a time of 26.330 seconds set on Lap 25 of 26.

Photo by Chris Madrid/TRE

Ben Rhodes has had the same quiet consistency that made him championship-eligible in 2021 and a defending champion in 2022.

In contrast, Rhodes has already promised “the handcuffs are off” for the celebration if he clinches his second-straight NCWTS championship.

His average finish has been off this season (12.1 in 2022 vs. 9.3 in 2021) but he’s finished 7th or better in the last three races, averaging a 4.67 average finish in those races.

A win is not always necessary to lock up the title and, being the second highest-qualified championship contender, Rhodes has a chance to upset someone like Zane Smith again and earn his second Truck championship.

Ben Rhodes starts 6th in the Lucas Oil 150. He was 12th fastest in practice with a time of 26.837 seconds set on Lap 11 of 18.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 27: Ty Majeski, driver of the #66 American Racing Wheels Toyota, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 27, 2022 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Ty Majeski arguably the most momentum of any Championship 4 driver, as he has won two of the last three races and been one of the top leaders in four of the six playoff races.

While his other three championship competitors were in last year’s NCWTS race at Phoenix, Majeski hasn’t raced at the track since 2019. In that race, he made his series debut and finished 11th in a Niece Motorsports truck.

Majeski’s prowess is at some of the shorter tracks and, while he hasn’t dominated on those tracks this year, a wave of momentum in a clutch situation has brought out the best in drivers.

Ty Majeski starts 8th in the Lucas Oil 150. He was fastest in practice with a time of 25.921 seconds set on Lap 1 of 39.

Chandler Smith hangs on to win CRC Brakleen 150 at Pocono
Photo: TRE

Chandler Smith is the defending winner of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Phoenix and has had winning speed.

Chandler won the pole and led 39 laps last year en route to his second career Truck win last November.

Since then, Smith has won three more races, including the regular-season finale at Pocono in July and the Richmond playoff race in September, while the other Smith – Zane – hasn’t won since Kansas in May.

Chandler Smith starts 12th in the Lucas Oil 150. He was 3rd fastest in practice with a time of 26.425 seconds set on Lap 37 of 37.

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