- Lap 25
POS 1 | LEADER
POS 2 | 0.472
POS 3 | 0.708
Chandler Smith powers to Camping World Truck Series win at Las Vegas with last-lap crossover
LAS VEGAS — Nineteen-year-old Chandler Smith took the lead with two laps remaining and held off 2021 championship contender Zane Smith and the winningest driver in NASCAR national series history, his team owner Kyle Busch, to win the Victoria‘s Voice 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
It was a deservedly dramatic ending for a hugely competitive race at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas track — marking the ninth consecutive Truck Series race won by a driver 23 years of age or younger. Smith‘s 0.289-second win over Zane Smith was his first of the season and third of his career and good enough to propel him to the championship points lead.
Zane Smith, however, was later disqualified for violating section 14.16.1-1-4 in the NASCAR rule book by using lug nuts that did not conform to NASCAR’s specifications. Despite crossing the line second, the No. 38 truck was relegated to a 36th-place finish and collected one point from the event.
After snatching second on the final restart with three laps to go, Chandler Smith powered past Zane Smith with a fierce crossover on the final trip down the backstretch to win on Friday night.
The move for the win came after a restart with three laps remaining. Chandler Smith, of Talking Rock, Georgia, got around his team owner Busch, then pulled alongside Zane Smith at the finish line with one lap to go and finally drove out front for the final of the 134 laps to take the win.
“When you guys tune into me halfway through the race, ‘how did he get up there?”‘ Chandler Smith said motioning toward the sky. “It‘s the good Lord man, he performs miracles all day. He‘s given me this talent, this opportunity to drive this truck for Kyle Busch Motorsports and for (sponsor) Safelite.
“I‘m just beyond thankful for this whole opportunity. All the glory goes to Him, my guys, my wife, all the guys part of this deal. I‘m just super thankful right now.”
There were five different leaders in the final furious 11 laps that included a caution for Christian Eckes, who was tagged from behind by Busch while leading the race with eight laps remaining. The final restart produced a wild — sometimes three-wide — contest to the checkered.
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Behind Smith, who led a race-best 32 laps, Busch, Stewart Friesen, Ryan Preece and Tanner Gray officially rounded out the top five. Preece, making only his third Truck Series start, was leading when the final caution flag came out but was penalized five positions for not maintaining speed behind the pace car.
Matt DiBenedetto, Matt Crafton, Bret Holmes, Austin Wayne Self and Ty Majeski rounded out the top 10.
The final restart wasn‘t without late dramatics. With two laps to go, Derek Kraus made contact with John Hunter Nemechek and Grant Enfinger, sending Kraus‘ No. 19 truck sliding toward the inside wall. Kraus steered out of it with a save, but the chaos didn‘t end there.
Behind the leaders on the final lap, Enfinger cut a right-front tire and went into the outside wall before his truck briefly caught fire. Not far behind was Nemechek, who spun entering Turn 3 because of a flat left-rear tire and was hit hard in the front end by Jordan Anderson, who had nowhere to go. Also involved was Spencer Boyd, whose truck was unable to cross the start/finish line. Boyd was transported to a local hospital after reportedly dislocating his shoulder.
Defending series champion Ben Rhodes won Stage 1 and Stage 2 and led nine laps on the night, but a collision with his ThorSport Racing teammate Majeski with 30 laps remaining badly damaged his No. 99 ThorSport Toyota, eliminating him from competition. Instead of contending for the win, the race favorite took his first DNF since the 2020 Daytona season-opener.
“I can‘t speak to what happened with my teammate there, I‘m just going to try to stay positive,‘‘ said Rhodes, who was credited with a 31st-place finish. “Can‘t imagine my teammate trying to wreck me.”
“Just a bummer,‘‘ he added.
Sentimental favorite, Todd Bodine, a two-time series champion who last raced in 2013, finished 21st in the first of his six scheduled starts for 2022 in an effort to reach 800 NASCAR national series starts.
Bodine had an eventful night in the No. 62 Toyota, including two pit-road speeding penalties, a penalty to his crew for being over the wall too soon and even surviving a pair of on-track incidents to finish on the lead lap.
Making his 500th career start Friday was Crafton, who was involved in a multi-truck crash near the end of Stage 1. Following the first restart of the night, Colby Howard was clipped in the left rear by Zane Smith, sending Howard’s No. 91 truck into Crafton’s door. Despite the damage, Crafton was able to rebound for an seventh-place finish.
The Camping World Truck Series returns to action March 19 in the Fr8Auctions 200 (2:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Note: Post-race inspection confirmed Chandler Smith’s No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota as the winner. Zane Smith’s No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford was disqualified after it was found to have lug nuts that did not conform to NASCAR rule specifications.
Contributing: Staff reports