The opening round of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series came down to an overtime finish in the NextEra Energy 250 at Daytona Int’l Speedway. Zane Smith, with a late shove by Parker Kligerman, was able to clear for the lead as the field took the white flag. Moments after the line, a crash brought out the yellow, freezing the field and awarding Smith the victory.
It all happened more than 20 minutes after the final caution under regulation froze the field just inches before the final lap began. The big one struck and had they traveled a few more feet before the caution was thrown, Smith would have been the winner still. It took an extra lap and a quarter for Smith to secure the win over Ben Rhodes, Christian Eckes, Tanner Gray and Kligerman, who all rounded out the Top 5.
Ty Majeski led the field to the green for the 100 lap shootout. The first stage clocked in at 20 laps, and Majeski led the first 18 of them. Coming to take the white flag in the stage, John Hunter Nemechek made the move to Majeski to take the top spot.
Nemechek had his Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Chandler Smith right behind him as they rounded the final lap. Stewart Friesen, Corey Heim and Zane Smith rounded out the Top 5. The first stage went without incident.
The second stage was a few laps shorter due to the stage caution laps from the prior break. Nemechek led the field back to the green and led up until lap 29. The racing action picked up, and there was more side-by-side action throughout the field. Friesen used that to his advantage and took the lead for two laps before Majeski came back to lead for three.
With six laps to go, Derek Kraus was able to take the lead, but was quickly thwarted by Tyler Ankrum. Ankrum, looking for the stage win, was not able to hold off Nemechek, who came back to lead the final three laps of the stage to sweep the stages.
Things started to pick up in the final 60 laps of the first race of the season. For a while, it was a heads-up battle for the top spot between Nemechek and Colby Howard.
After a couple of cautions involving Jack Wood, Heim, and the first multi-truck incident of Tate Fogleman, Jason White and Kris Wright, the field re-stacked for a final bout with only a handful of laps to go.
More than 30 trucks were still on track and up to speed, so it almost became more of a when, not if, the big one was coming. With two laps to go and almost past the line to take the white flag, the field exploded into chaos.
Nemechek, Howard, and many, many more were collected. Kraus caught some air in the grass, Grant Enfinger was destroyed, Matt Crafton was barely able to continue back to the pits, and a bunch more got collected.
When they came back around, the red flag was displayed for the next 15 minutes and 39 seconds. Eckes was given the lead for the restart based on the scoring loop. On the backstretch, Kligerman laid into the back of Zane’s bumper, allowing the No. 38 to clear for the lead.
Smith held on until the yellow flew on the white flag to take the win, his fourth career victory and his first as a member of Front Row Motorsports.
With stage points factored in, Zane Smith will lead the points into their next race of the season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The margin is only two points over the defending champion Rhodes. Eckes will be third, Gray will be fourth, and Majeski will be fifth, despite a seventh place effort.
Due to the amount of stage points earned, both Chandler Smith and Nemechek will be tied for sixth in the standings despite their respective 21st and 24th place results. Nemechek will also have two playoff points to utilize should he make the playoffs this year, thanks to his stage wins on the night.
TOP 10 DAYTONA RESULTS
|1||38||Zane Smith||Front Row Motorsports|
|2||99||Ben Rhodes||ThorSport Racing|
|3||98||Christian Eckes||ThorSport Racing|
|4||15||Tanner Gray||David Gilliland Racing|
|5||75||Parker Kligerman||Henderson Motorsports|
|6||02||Jesse Little||Young’s Motorsports|
|7||66||Ty Majeski||ThorSport Racing|
|8||20||Danny Bohn||Young’s Motorsports|
|9||42||Carson Hocevar||Niece Motorsports|
|10||25||Matt DiBenedetto||Rackley WAR|
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