By Brian Eberly, Contributing Writer
MADISON, Ill. — On Tuesday morning, Zane Smith had no idea that he would be running a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race any time in the near future. But a text from DGR-Crosley kicked off a whirlwind week for Smith, who had to get his NASCAR licence, a concussion test and fitted in his seat before boarding the plane to Gateway Motorsports Park.
Smith has a series-leading three wins in the ARCA Racing Series in 2018 driving the No. 41 Toyota for MDM Motorsports. The Huntington Beach, California native finished a disappointing 16th in Friday night’s ARCA race at Gateway after looping around when the air got pulled off his spoiler and he over corrected and got into the fence.
One of three drivers pulling double duty this weekend, Smith hopped in to the No. 54 DGR-Crosley Toyota for his Truck Series debut on Saturday. Making the final round of knockout qualifying, Smith would roll off 10th at the 1.25-mile oval outside downtown St. Louis. Gaining and losing positions throughout the race, Smith would bring the truck home in one piece with a fifth-place result.
“That was a lot to manage right there,” Smith told Motorsports Tribune on pit road. “I could not get from third to fourth (gear) and we fought tight all day but we somehow managed to get a good finish. It’s been a hectic week but I’ve got to thank Crosley,DGR, Toyota, my mom, my dad, La Paz Margarita Mix and ICON (Vehicle Dynamics).
With nine cautions for 53 laps in the 160-lap event, Smith would be shuffled around inside and outside the top-10 throughout the race. At Lap 85, the DGR-Crosley crew reminded Smith to get in his rhythm, there was still a long way to go, as he was mired back in the 18th position.
“It was a lot looser, really. Just in traffic,” the NASCAR Next driver said of the adjustment from the ARCA car to the truck. “Clean air is so huge with the trucks. We would just get shuffled back and then I would be in dirty air and have to work myself back up there. That was the biggest thing that I learned out there tonight. Once we would get somewhat towards the front, a caution would come out and then just a repeat.
“My goal was to complete all the laps and just have a good day.”
Smith’s top-five comes on the heels of last week’s fourth place result with team-owner David Gilliland behind the wheel at Iowa Speedway. The team looks to carry that momentum into next week at Chicagoland Speedway.
As for another Truck start this season for Smith?
“Nothing planned at this point. Maybe I’ll get another last minute text,” Smith said with a grin.