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Jim Utter

Zane Smith literally burns it down in Truck win at COTA

Busch’s pit strategy got thrown out the window when Parker Kligerman’s stalled truck brought out a caution soon after Busch had claimed the Stage 2 win.

Several contenders, including Smith, got on pit road before pit road closed for the caution and was able to complete his stop. Busch had to wait until pit road opened under the caution to make his pit stop.

On the restart on Lap 30 of 42, Smith led the way while Buch lined up 17th. He made up seven spots in one lap and moved into second on Lap 36 but could not run down Smith.

Smith took his second consecutive victory at COTA by 5.451 seconds over Busch. The win is his second of the 2023 season and ninth of his career.

After a monstrous burnout on the frontstetch against the wall, the mud flaps behind the rear wheels caught fire and the rear of his truck was engulfed in flames before finally being extinguished by safety workers.

“Besides catching on fire in Victory Lane – that’s a first for me,” said Smith. “Man, that’s a bummer right there. Shoutout to my team for an amazing strategy that worked out with that caution.

“Putting Kyle back (in the field) and us starting on the front row was just perfect. This truck was fast when it mattered. I enjoy coming to all the road courses and especially here.

“That was probably the most hectic Victory Lane celebration I’ve ever had. I apologize for catching the truck on fire in Victory Lane.”

Ty Majeski finished third, Tyler Ankrum was fourth and Ross Chastain rounded out the top-five.

Completing the top-10 was Corey Heim, Nick Sanchez, Tanner Gray, Kaz Grala and Ben Rhodes.

Stage 3

Following the caution for Kligerman stalling on the front stretch, several lead-lap trucks – including Busch – pit but Smith stayed out and inherited the lead.

On the restart on Lap 30, Smith was followed by Rhodes and Grala. Busch lined up 17th.

Chase Purdy spun around near Turn 15 on Lap 31 but was able to continue on without an issue.

With 10 laps remaining, Busch had worked his way up to third from the restart while Smith continued to lead the way.

On Lap 36, Busch got around Rhodes to move into second, 6.1 seconds behind the leader Smith.

With three laps to go, Smith maintained a 5.4-second lead over Busch as Rhodes ran third.

Christian Eckes, who led earlier in the race, was forced to take his No. 19 truck to the garage with one lap remaining.

Stage 2

As the field completed Lap 26, Busch was awarded the Stage 2 win.

Smith was second, Lawless Alan third, Stewart Friesen fourth and Kligerman rounded out the top-five. Kligerman, however, brought out a caution when he stalled on the frontstretch after completing the second stage.

As the second stage got under way, Eckes remained in the lead.

He elected to pit on Lap 13, which turned the lead over to Majeski.

On Lap 14, Busch went to the inside of Majeski and completed a pass to move into the lead.

Colby Howard was assessed a pass-through penalty on Lap 15 for short-cutting the esses part of the track. Tanner Gray was assessed the same penalty on Lap 17 for committing the same violation.

Eckes reported an issue with his fuel pressure on Lap 19 but his No. 19 truck was continuing to keep pace.

Chastain finally worked his way around Busch on Lap 20 in the esses to reclaim the lead as Smith ran third.

Majeski hit pit road under green on Lap 21 for the first time in the race.

On Lap 23, Busch managed to get around Chastain in the esses to return to the front. Smith ran third and Kligerman fourth.

Chastain hit pit road on Lap 24 for a green-flag pit stop to take on new tires and fuel.

Stage 1

As the field completed Lap 12, Eckes was in the lead and awarded the Stage 1 win.

Majeski was second, Heim third, Grala fourth and Busch rounded out the top-five.

Chastain started on the pole and held on to lead the first lap.

NASCAR displayed a caution on Lap 3 after Ed Jones’ No. 20 truck stalled on the track around the area of Turn 13.

On the restart on Lap 4, Chastain was followed by Busch and Eckes.

Eckes powered past Chastain off Turn 1 on the restart to move into the lead. Chastain was able to catch and retake the lead from Eckes to start Lap 5.

On Lap 5, Rajah Caruth was assessed a pass-through penalty for short-cutting the esses on the track.

Carson Hocevar spun, went off course near Turn 11 and got stuck in gravel pit on Lap 8 to bring out another caution.

Several trucks elected to pit under the caution with Chastain the first off pit road. Eckes remained on the track and inherited the lead. He led the way on the restart on Lap 11.

Cla # Driver Manufacturer Laps Time Gap Interval Laps Led
1 38 Zane Smith Ford 42 1:51'35.679     16
2 51 United States Kyle Busch Chevrolet 42 1:51'41.130 5.451 5.451 12
3 98 United States Ty Majeski Ford 42 1:51'48.161 12.482 7.031 1
4 16 United States Tyler Ankrum Toyota 42 1:51'56.153 20.474 7.992  
5 41 United States Ross Chastain Chevrolet 42 1:51'56.793 21.114 0.640 10
6 11 Corey Heim Toyota 42 1:51'57.525 21.846 0.732  
7 2 Nicholas Sanchez Chevrolet 42 1:51'57.746 22.067 0.221  
8 15 United States Tanner Gray Toyota 42 1:52'03.612 27.933 5.866  
9 1 United States Kaz Grala Toyota 42 1:52'04.034 28.355 0.422  
10 99 United States Ben Rhodes Ford 42 1:52'04.314 28.635 0.280  
11 17 Taylor Gray Toyota 42 1:52'04.895 29.216 0.581  
12 23 United States Grant Enfinger Chevrolet 42 1:52'08.119 32.440 3.224  
13 24 Rajah Caruth Chevrolet 42 1:52'12.472 36.793 4.353  
14 52 United States Stewart Friesen Toyota 42 1:52'13.355 37.676 0.883  
15 04 Kaden Honeycutt Ford 42 1:52'13.958 38.279 0.603  
16 13 United States Hailie Deegan Ford 42 1:52'15.858 40.179 1.900  
17 45 Alan Lawless Chevrolet 42 1:52'30.093 54.414 14.235  
18 43 Daniel Dye Chevrolet 42 1:52'36.984 1'01.305 6.891  
19 35 Jake Garcia Chevrolet 42 1:52'38.317 1'02.638 1.333  
20 30 Colin Garrett Toyota 42 1:52'41.923 1'06.244 3.606  
21 02 United States Kris Wright Chevrolet 42 1:52'48.549 1'12.870 6.626  
22 22 Logan Bearden Ford 42 1:52'50.050 1'14.371 1.501  
23 32 Bret Holmes Chevrolet 42 1:52'51.294 1'15.615 1.244  
24 9 Colby Howard Chevrolet 42 1:52'53.432 1'17.753 2.138  
25 56 United States Timmy Hill Toyota 42 1:53'04.728 1'29.049 11.296  
26 34 United States Mason Filippi Ford 42 1:53'07.781 1'32.102 3.053  
27 4 United States Chase Purdy Chevrolet 42 1:53'07.884 1'32.205 0.103  
28 46 Dale Quarterley Toyota 42 1:53'15.907 1'40.228 8.023  
29 25 United States Matt DiBenedetto Chevrolet 41 1:53'10.830 1 Lap 1 Lap  
30 19 United States Christian Eckes Chevrolet 31 1:45'41.763 11 Laps 10 Laps 3
31 75 United States Parker Kligerman Chevrolet 26 1:09'02.707 16 Laps 5 Laps  
32 12 United States Spencer Boyd Chevrolet 12 37'51.006 30 Laps 14 Laps  
33 88 United States Matt Crafton Ford 11 35'19.321 31 Laps 1 Lap  
34 42 Carson Hocevar Chevrolet 8 28'59.751 34 Laps 3 Laps  
35 5 Dean Thompson Toyota 4 12'33.465 38 Laps 4 Laps  
36 20 United Arab Emirates Ed Jones Chevrolet 0 1.994 42 Laps 4 Laps  
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