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Nick DeGroot

Zane Smith says past Truck title losses have been 'scarring'

While he climbs his way up the NASCAR ladder system, Smith realizes his time may be running short in terms of capturing that seemingly elusive Truck Series championship.

Smith made his Cup debut earlier this year and looks to expand on that with more starts in 2023, including the Daytona 500. He'll also be full-time in the Truck Series again next season.

As a competitor in the Truck Series, he has won six races since 2020. In his rookie season, he ended the year runner-up in the final standings. In 2021, he was second to the eventual champion yet again. So of course, he desperately hopes to avoid the same outcome in 2022.

"It’s a lot of pressure every year, he admitted during Thursday's Media Day availability. "But I know my time in the Truck Series is running out in a way, so I really want to get this championship.  I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot in the Truck Series, but I’m missing that one big thing. I really want the championship bad, more than anyone and especially how I’ve lost it the past couple of years has been scarring, but, like I said, hopefully the third time is the charm.”

In his first attempt, he was nearly side-by-side with Sheldon Creed for the crown on the white flag lap, but came up empty handed. Last year, he was in control of the championship lead until Ben Rhodes moved him out of the way, snagging the title for himself.

Smith intends to approach this race like he would any other, and won't let himself overthink things.

“I’m really just trying to approach this as a normal race because at the end of the day it is," he said. "We’re just competing for a title. I have a lot of family that comes out to this one since this is as close to home as I get, so I’m excited to be back on the west coast, but possibly seeing some family tonight and then hopefully in bed and waking up charged up and ready to go chase a championship.”

He believes his past experiences in the Championship 4 will be "very meaningful" and as much as he wants to become champion, he now realizes he doesn't necessarily need it in order to advance further in his NASCAR career.

“I used to think it did and I feel like that did no good for me," he said. "I just myself want it really bad and I know everyone at FRM – all of the work and effort that they’ve put in, all of the man hours, they deserve it too.  I’m so proud of them to get to the final four in general, especially in our first attempt together, but I do think we have a really good shot at winning this thing."

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