Zane Smith survived a restart with three laps left in Friday’s KDI Office Technology 200 at Dover International Speedway and pulled away to claim his second NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series victory of the season.
The 21-year-old Sunoco rookie held off Matt Crafton and GMS Racing teammate Brett Moffitt in the final three-lap dash to earn his second victory in three races and reinforce his status as a formidable contender for the series championship.
RELATED: Official results
Smith held a comfortable lead of more than 1.5 seconds over Moffitt when Stewart Friesen spun in Turn 2 on Lap 192 to cause the fifth and final caution. Moffitt chose the bottom lane for the final restart and lost second place to Crafton on the next-to-last lap.
Smith crossed the finish line .989 seconds ahead of Crafton, with Moffitt trailing in third.
“What an awesome truck,” Smith said. “I think we all know that I suck at restarts, but I picked a good time to have a good one. Man, two wins. This is by far the most fun I’ve ever had racing in my career. I’m just so blessed to be here.”
Smith also won the second leg of the Triple Truck Challenge, earning a $50,000 bonus.
“Hopefully, I can pay off my Chevy Silverado,” Smith said.
Sheldon Creed, one of Smith’s GMS Racing teammates, won the first Triple Truck Challenge race last weekend at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course.
On the penultimate restart on Lap 98, after the second stage break, Smith led the field to green but spun his tires and lost three positions. Moffitt was hoping for a similar result when he chose the bottom lane for the final restart.
“The restart before, the 21 (Smith) got a terrible launch on the outside and lost a few positions, but, ultimately, I didn’t get a good launch there on the bottom, and the 21 did,” said Moffitt, the 2018 series champion. “He went a little earlier than I thought he would. Frustrating … I don’t know — we’ve got to get better.”
The race produced little change on either side of the Gander Truck Series playoff bubble, with 10th-place Todd Gilliland doubling his advantage over 11th-place Derek Kraus to four points. Ten drivers qualify for the postseason. There are three races left before the playoff opener Sept. 17 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“We’re right on the bubble and we need to have these good days, but the guys around us are stepping up, too,” said Gilliland, who finished fourth to Kraus’ 10th Friday. “So we’ve just got to maximize every day.”
ThorSport Racing teammates Ben Rhodes and Johnny Sauter ran fifth and sixth, respectively, followed by Tyler Ankrum, Austin Hill, Friesen and Kraus. Smith and Moffitt each led 50 of the 200 laps. Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates Christian Eckes and Chandler Smith were out front for 34 and 31 laps, respectively.
Chandler Smith spun while racing in close quarters with Eckes on Lap 88 and finished 20th. Eckes came home 11th.