Zane Smith Capitalizes On Must-Win Playoff Race At Martinsville Speedwayby Hunter Thomas October 30, 2021 0 comments
RIDGEWAY, Va. – Zane Smith entered Saturday’s United Rentals 200 at Martinsville Speedway needing a win to advance to the Championship 4 of the NASCAR Playoffs, and on the final lap, he made it happen by avoiding chaos.
On the final restart of the afternoon in NASCAR Overtime, Todd Gilliland lined up on the inside of the front row with Stewart Friesen alongside of him. Zane Smith and Tanner Gray made up the second row. As the field made its way out of Turn 2, Smith dove below Gilliland and Friesen to battle for the lead. Three-wide typically doesn’t work at Martinsville, and when the leaders exited Turn 4, still three-wide, contact was made between Friesen and Gilliland. With the white flag in the air, Gilliland was turned into the outside wall on the frontstretch, and it was Smith who just barely squeezed by to solidify the top spot.
“Man, I did not want Todd in front of me, he’s a good buddy of mine,” Smith said. “Honestly, I got shoved from behind by the 16 and pissed him off earlier in the race, so that wasn’t all me. Man, such hard racing.”
Smith continued and said, “I’m looking for a job right now. I have nothing. It’s a good day.”
Smith will compete in the Championship 4 for the second consecutive season. Following the race, Smith said, “Man, I’ll tell you what. From last year, I haven’t been able to sleep right all year, so I’m going to do whatever it takes to win the damn thing.”
Smith joins Ben Rhodes, Matt Crafton and John Hunter Nemechek in the Championship 4. Nemechek nearly missed out on advancing. Contact with Austin Wayne Self sent his No. 4 Pye-Barker Fire & Safety Toyota hard into the outside wall in Turn 3. Nemechek was attempting to make a pass and was clipped. Nemechek finished a disappointing 39th, and after the race, he was not happy with Self.
“I don’t know,” Nemechek said. “He shouldn’t be out here if he’s just going to hook someone in the right rear and turn them in the fence. NASCAR should definitely look at that. It’s Playoff contention. You’ve got to have respect and he doesn’t. It is what it is. Hopefully we make it to the final four and we definitely will have something for them in Phoenix.”
Finishing behind Smith was Austin Hill, Gray, Chandler Smith and Crafton. Rounding out the top-10 was Parker Kligerman, Rhodes, Taylor Gray, Sheldon Creed and Timmy Hill.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series saw nine lead changes among four drivers. Gilliland led a race high of 133 laps.
The United Rentals 200 also had 14 cautions for 89 laps.
The final NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race of the season will be held at Phoenix Raceway on Friday, November 5. The Lucas Oil 150 will broadcast live on FS1 and MRN at 8 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images