• Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

Zane Smith wins rain-shortened Truck Series opener, goes back-to-back at Daytona

ByBrenden Martin

Feb 17, 2023
Zane Smith celebrates in Victory Lane

Photo courtesy of Chris Graythen | Getty Images

Front Row Motorsports No. 38 driver Zane Smith won the rain-shortened 2023 NextEra Energy 250 at Daytona International Speedway, marking his second straight win at the track to start a season.

Smith took the lead with 36 laps to go, and after multiple red flags, the race was called with 21 laps to go.

“[I] honestly wanted to go back racing there, somewhat, to duke it out with good friends of mine actually, but hey, we’ll take a win at Daytona any day we can get it,” Smith said.

Smith’s season-opening win comes after he needed to race six laps of overtime to win last year’s Next Era Energy 250. The rain more than made up for the extra laps he needed a year ago.

Rain was a central component of the race from the get-go. The first caution for moisture appeared on Lap two after ThorSport Racing No. 98 driver Ty Majeski passed the polesitter, Rev Racing No. 2 driver Nick Sanchez.

The rain came again just as soon as the race went green again on Lap 7 as if it were some sort of sick prank Mother Nature was pulling on the return of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The green came out again on Lap 11 and the third time was the charm to reach the end of the now-shortened Stage 1.

Majeski battled for the Stage win by snagging the lead heading into the final lap from Bill McAnally Racing No. 19 driver Christian Eckes. Last year’s Daytona polesitter could not hold on for the playoff point as Eckes took the stage when Majeski got loose off Turn 4.

Eckes, who raced for ThorSport last season in the same number Majeski is in this year, won one Stage all 2022. He has already matched that total this year with his new team. He finished third behind Smith and TRICON Garage No. 15 driver Tanner Gray, who came away with a career-best second-place finish.

Eckes was not very happy with how the race was set to end under the red flag.

“I swear, if [Smith] Mickey Mouse’s his way into this I’ll be so mad,” Eckes said on pit road.

Walt Disney World seemed to be listening from Orlando not too far away.

Pit strategy came into play before Stage 2. Hattori Racing Enterprises No. 16 driver Tyler Ankrum stayed out to lead going into the second stage.

The first caution for a wreck occurred on Lap 29 when No. 84 driver Clay Greenfield lost control on the frontstretch, collecting Rackley WAR No. 25 driver Matt DiBenedetto, Niece Motorsports No. 5 driver Dean Thompson and ThorSport Racing No. 13 driver Hailie Deegan.

The crash ended the race for Greenfield and the latter two drivers.

“The truck was very difficult to hold straight,” Greenfield said.

The wreck brought out the first red flag and was followed by more rain.

More issues in Stage 2 happened up front when Halmar Friesen Racing No. 52 driver Stewart Friesen made a late block on ThorSport No. 99 Ben Rhodes who got on a huge run on Lap 40, ending the stage and handing Ankrum his second career Stage win.

Rookies making their full-time debuts learned the hard way at Daytona. GMS Racing No. 24 Rajah Caruth lost control with 43 laps to go, taking out fellow GMS rookie No. 43 Daniel Dye for the race.

DiBenedetto was involved in this wreck as well, adding to the damage he ran with for most of the race.

Spire Motorsports No. 7 driver Corey Lajoie stayed out after the caution due to miscommunication with the team when pit road opened. He led the restart with 36 laps to go but got split by the pack quickly, falling to 24th.

Smith took the lead with the radar showing that rain was imminent and held on for three laps before the rain came down the hardest it had all night to put the race to a halt.

NASCAR did whatever it could to finish the race in its entirety. The trucks got off pit road after an hour-long red flag for six caution laps only to have the rain pick up again and bring out another red flag with 21 laps to go where the race was finally called.

The last two Daytona winners in the Truck Series have gone on to win the championship. Smith did it last year and Rhodes managed the same in 2021.

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will be back in two weeks for its second race of the 2023 season with the Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The race will begin at 9 p.m. EST with coverage on Fox Sports 1, Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

NOTE: Post-race inspection is complete in the Truck Series garage. There were no issues, confirming the No. 38 as the winner. 

Official results:

Race results trucks daytona

Official Driver Points:

Driver points


Official Owners Points:


Owners points