Don Radebaugh, ARCA Communications Manager
TOLEDO, Ohio — Zane Smith, with a bold three-wide maneuver in lapped traffic, passed his MDM Motorsports teammate Chase Purdy with nine laps remaining, then sped away to win the Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care Sunday afternoon at Toledo Speedway.
“I had to work so hard to get back to Chase (Purdy)…he got me on that last restart,” said Smith. “Our cars were pretty-much dead-even. I knew we were going to catch lappers sooner or later. When we got there, I just thought it through and split him and a lapper going into (turn) three.”
Purdy, in the No. 8 Bama Buggies Toyota, passed Smith from the outside on a lap 175 restart and immediately put five lengths between himself and the eventual winner. The gap stayed the same up inside of 10 laps remaining when Purdy found himself in lapped traffic with Smith bearing down. Smith, with a lapped car to his inside, got inside of Purdy making it three-wide headed into turn three. Once both cleared the lapped car, Smith emerged as the leader.
“I knew I was going to have to beat my teammates out there today,” said Purdy. “He (Smith) caught me in lapped traffic going into (turn) three…got inside me and that was that. We were so fast today. It’s my best finish so far. We’ll take this and move forward. Congratulations to Zane (Smith)…he drove a great race. We always come to the track knowing we’re going to have to beat our teammates. Big thanks to all my guys at MDM, and my sponsor, Bama Buggies.”
Smith, in the No. 41 LaPaz Margarita Mix-ICON Vehicle Dynamics Toyota, is now three out of five in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards win column in 2018. The Huntington Beach, Calif. driver, who led 76 laps Sunday, has also unofficially taken the championship points lead away from his teammate Sheldon Creed, who fell out with overheating issues 30 laps from the finish.
“That (winning) won’t ever get old,” Smith said. “I still get the same foot shake with four to go. I don’t know if this was as big as the win at Talladega, but it’s right up there. I’m still so pumped…ready to go for four at Charlotte.”
Purdy, who had just graduated from high school last week, finished a career-best second, about 10 lengths away.
Joe Graf, Jr., in his first Toledo start, finished third in the No. 77 Big Tine Ford.
“Our Big Tine Ford was really, really good,” said Graf, still driving with a mending broken left foot. “Just needed one more caution there at the end…I think we may have had something for the leaders. We weren’t as good as we needed to be on short runs, but the car was good on long runs. This Chad Bryant Motorsports team works so hard…it’s going to be a great year.”
General Tire pole winner Chandler Smith, in the No. 20 Smith General Contracting Toyota, led the most laps — 97 of 200 — but an issue with a sway bar caused his car to fade over the back half.
“The right-front tire went flat and it rubbed the sway bar off,” said Smith. “We were just trying to keep it clean in the end…it was basically all we could do.”
Smith, 15, still finished a solid fourth, one lap down after dominating early on. Smith, who recorded the fastest lap of the race, also made history the day before, becoming the first driver in ARCA history to win General Tire poles in his first three starts.
Bret Holmes brought his No. 23 Holmes II Excavation-Southern States Bank Chevrolet home in fifth, a season-best for the Munford, Ala. driver.
“Today was good,” said Holmes. “We started 13th and came up through the field and got a top-five…our best finish of the year. It was a lot about saving it through the middle and going as best as we could at the end. We were off a little but never gave up. We’ll keep our heads up and go to Charlotte.”
Brandon Grosso had a big day for Ken Schrader Racing, coming in sixth in the No. 52 FDP Friction Science Ford, one lap off the leaders. Natalie Decker finished seventh in the No. 25 N29 Capital Partners Toyota. Travis Braden was eighth in the No. 27 MatrixCare-Consonus Health Care-Liberty Village Ford. Harrison Burton, with significant front-end damage from a couple altercations, finished ninth in the No. 12 Sports Force Parks Toyota. Thad Moffitt finished a career-best 10th in the No. 46 CGS Imaging Ford.
It’s a short turn-around for the ARCA Racing Series with the General Tire 150 coming next at Charlotte Motor Speedway Thursday night, May 24. The race, live on FS1 at 9 p.m. Eastern, marks ARCA’s return to Charlotte after a 14-year hiatus.