NASCAR Truck: Zane Smith leads way into playoff opener at Indy

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KANSAS CITY, KANSAS - MAY 14: Zane Smith, driver of the #38 Speedco Ford, gives a thumbs up to fans after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Heart of America 200 at Kansas Speedway on May 14, 2022 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, KANSAS – MAY 14: Zane Smith, driver of the #38 Speedco Ford, gives a thumbs up to fans after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Heart of America 200 at Kansas Speedway on May 14, 2022 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2022 regular-series champion Zane Smith leads a group of 10 drivers into the seven-race playoffs, starting Friday night at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. Smith secured the regular-season title in the regular-season finale at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., on July 23.

Smith struggled late in the 60-lap Pocono race, including time spent on pit road for repairs related to a stuck throttle during a lap-42 caution. But he began the race needing only to collect two points to clinch the regular-season championship. Smith completed that task when the first stage completed on lap 15 with a sixth-place stage finish.

“I knew I only had to get a couple of points,” to clinch, Smith said. “Long day. Fought a really tough truck. I’m glad we’re on to the playoffs and ready to get this (post) season started.”

The regular-season title came with the reward of 15 bonus points with which to begin the playoffs.

Smith claimed a Truck Series-leading three wins in the 16-race regular season at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway; Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas; and Kansas Speedway. He also notched seven stage wins for a total of 37 playoff points added to a 2000-point base with which playoff drivers begin the postseason. His points tally gives him a 15-point cushion over second-place driver Chandler Smith, who won the race at Pocono.

Frday night’s playoff-opening race at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park will be the first for the Truck Series at the track since 2011. As a result, only two current series drivers have experience racing a truck there — Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter.

Crafton was the 10th and final driver to make the playoffs with a 15th-place finish at Pocono. As a part-time driver in 2022, Sauter was not eligible for post-season consideration.

Here, are the points standings heading into Friday night’s race at Indianapolis.

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