By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Forced to overcome a flat tire in Stage 2, Zane Smith rebounded to finish inside the top-10 at Circuit of the Americas.
Smith entered the top-five in his No. 21 MRC Construction Chevrolet Silverado halfway into the second Stage of the Toyota Tundra 225. Exiting turn one, the GMS Racing driver broke loose, the left rear tire flat. He struggled to limp his wounded NASCAR Camping World Truck Series machine around the 3.41-mile track back to pit road. Luckily, the tire did not shred the quarter panel of the Silverado.
Having pitted early in Stage 2, he did not earn any additional points. It did allow crew chief Kevin Manion to keep him on track during the caution between the second and final Stage of the 225k race.
On the restart, Smith battled with Parker Kligerman, Austin Hill, and Carson Hocevar. Contact between Hill and Kligerman sent the No. 75 Good Sam Chevrolet Silverado spinning. Smith narrowly avoided Kligerman as he continued to battle Hill, Hocevar, and others.
In the drying conditions, Smith worked to get by Hill. In the closing laps, the 21-year-old took eighth. However, he ran out of laps to run down Hocevar for seventh.
Smith took to Twitter to express his disappointment and frustration in the luck he and his GMS Racing team had.
“I hate the word luck, but damn,” stated Smith. “Flat left rear as soon as we get to the front. Drove back up to eighth in the final stage.”
I hate the word luck but damn. Flat LR as soon as we get to the front. Drove from the back up to 8th in the final stage.
— Zane Smith (@ZaneSmith) May 22, 2021
Smith started 15th after missing the second round of qualifying. In additional to failing to earn points in Stage 2, pit strategy kept the Huntington Beach, Calif. native outside the top-10 in Stage 1.
The eighth-place finish is the fifth top-10 finish for Smith this season and the 19th of his Truck Series career. The top-10 is also his 26th in NASCAR competition across both the Truck and Xfinity Series.
The eighth-place is also the best finish for Smith on a road course. His previous best was 13th at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course last year. He finished last at the Daytona road course earlier this year after an accident.
Smith up moved from ninth in points to eighth because of his top-10 finish. He is 44-points ahead of the playoff cutoff, held by Johnny Sauter. Smith is 137-points behind leader John Hunter Nemechek.
Next for Smith is a return to Charlotte Motor Speedway and the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 on Friday, May 28. He finished third in last year’s race.
Feature Photo Credit: Photo by Garry Eller / Harold Hinson Photography