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NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series

Chandler Smith Prevails At Pocono

Chandler Smith gave Kyle Busch Motorsports a boost of confidence entering the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs. (Photo: Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

Chandler Smith outlasted pressure from Ryan Preece in the closing laps in Pennsylvania to claim the CRC Brakleen 150 victory in the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series regular season finale at Pocono Raceway.

This is Smith’s second win of 2022 and the fourth of his Truck Series career. The victory at Pocono came at the right time for the Kyle Busch Motorsports driver, looking to build momentum and confidence entering the playoffs.

“This is awesome,” Smith said. “I got Safelite a win earlier this year in Vegas and now I got ChargeMe a win. Now I have to get iBUYPOWER a win and I think they’re on the truck in Talladega. Really excited. We had a really fast ChargeMe Toyota Tundra today.

“Danny (Stockman) did a phenomenal job. I knew we were going to be good today, I knew what we had coming here. Without practice, I did wish we would have had practice, but the Good Lord plays out in funny ways sometimes.”

Chandler Smith held on to win despite pressure from Ryan Preece and his KBM teammates. (Photo: Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

Speaking of KBM, the entire organization had a solid afternoon at the “Tricky Triangle,” with all three Toyota Tundras from Kyle Busch’s stable finishing inside the top-five.

Along with Smith’s victory, John Hunter Nemecheck and Corey Heim finished third and fourth respectively.

“Our Tundra TRD Pro was so good today and all the guys back at the shop, at KBM, did such a great job,” Heim said. “Just needed a little bit more there at the end.

“I feel like if we had track position, we were probably the best truck, but that’s part of it. We’re going to get them next time.”

Stage 2

In a calmer, caution-free segment, Christian Eckes stayed out while others pitted to take the Stage 2 victory.

With Eckes already locked into the playoffs entering Pocono, the driver of the No. 98 ThorSport Racing Toyota Tundra continued adding points with two strong finishes in the first two stages.

“Can’t thank everybody enough, Curb Records, Duke and Rhonda (Thorson), Toyota Racing and now we get to go race for a championship so just really looking forward to it,” Eckes said.

Stage 2 Top-10 Results: Eckes, Ankrum, Crafton, Nemecheck, Majeski, Howard, Purdy, Z. Smith, Little, Enfinger.

Stage 1

Chandler Smith won Stage 1 under caution, following a Lap 12 incident that saw Hailie Deegan squeeze, Todd Bodine, down into Blaine Perkins, who turned Bodine’s No. 62 Halmar Friesen Racing Toyota Tundra into the wall.

Then, Tyler Hill piled into Bodine. Jack Wood suffered nose damage which ended his day.

Todd Bodine celebrates 800 career NASCAR starts, acknowledging the fans for what could be the final time. (Photo: Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

This incident was a heartbreaker for Bodine. The driver nicknamed “The Onion” made his 800th career NASCAR start at Pocono and possibly competed in his last race ever before hanging up the helmet permanently.

“That’s definitely not how we wanted this to go,” Bodine said. “I’ve been so blessed to do what I love to do 800 times. Made so many good friends and have so many great people involved in my life, it’s a pretty blessed life to have. That’s racing. I’ve been here before, I’ve been wrecked before. It’s part of the game.

“Maybe I’ll have to make it 801. Thanks to Chris Larson and Stewart Friesen for letting me do this and having this much fun. Marcus Lemonis and Camping World – nobody thought he would step up and he did, thank you. Thank you to all the fans that have supported me all these years. It’s truly meant the world to me and I appreciate it. I’ll see you on TV and I’ll be having fun on TV.”

Bodine’s truck was too damaged to continue and retired from the race after 12 laps.

On Lap 7, Dean Thompson washed up the track underneath his Niece Motorsports teammate Kris Wright as the No. 40 Chevrolet Silverado became the second truck to spin in the first 10 laps of the race.

The field didn’t even complete one trip around the “Tricky Triangle” before the first caution came out on Lap 1 for Wood’s No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet Silverado. Wood got loose entering Turn 2, lost control of his truck and spun.

Stage 1 Top-10 Results: C. Smith, Eckes, Hocevar, Friesen, Kraus, Z. Smith, Nemecheck, Ankrum, Crafton, Heim.

One Spot Short

With Matt Crafton claiming the final playoff spot, the first driver to come up short was Derek Kraus. He entered the day at Pocono needing to find victory lane to earn a playoff berth, but a ninth-place finish wasn’t good enough to get the job done.

“We can look back at races and circle ones, these are ones that could’ve been better,” Kraus said. “For example, Texas where we got taken out late. But it’s a part of the past. You got to look past it.

“I knew it was going to be tough racing him (Crafton). I remember growing up watching these truck races, watching the No. 88 Menards truck. I knew he was going to be tough to gain 19 points on, and we were able to gain quite a bit throughout the last five, six races. A the end of the day, we weren’t able to do it.”

Once the playoffs get underway next week, watch out for a hungry Crafton determined to bring home his fourth Truck Series title at the end of the year.

“Take the gloves off and do whatever it takes,” Crafton said. “I bring all my friends in the yellow firesuits and don’t care about the rest.”

2022 NCWTS Playoff Grid

Following the conclusion of the CRC Brakleen 150 at Pocono Raceway, the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs will get underway next Friday night, July 29 (9 p.m. ET on FS1) at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.

Zane Smith clinched the regular season title at the end of Stage 1, but fought through throttle issues throughout the day and still managed to finish 13th.

“The team has brought me some really fast Ford’s this year,” Smith said. “Today was a major struggle though. We started out from the green flag to pretty much the end of Stage 2, our throttle was sticking and everything we were doing wasn’t fixing it. I was a little worried there at times because I knew that I just had to have a couple of points and then you see the 18 up there as well.

“A long, long day once we did get it right we still fought a really tight truck. But there is no giving up. This race is just so short to try to get your truck right. I am glad we are on to the playoffs and ready to get that started.”

Smith enters the postseason as one of the early championship favorites, he’ll have quite a battle on his hands with nine other competitors challenging him for the next several months, in order to become the 2022 Truck Series champion.

CRC Brakleen 150 Top-10 Results: C. Smith, Preece, Nemecheck, Heim, Hocevar, A. Hill, Majeski, Eckes, Kraus, Tan. Gray.

Kobe Lambeth is a 2021 graduate of UNC Charlotte, who earned his undergraduate degree in Communication Studies (mass media concentration), with a double minor in Journalism and American Studies. In February 2007, he initially developed a strong passion for motorsports. His childhood dream is to work in the motorsports industry for a long time. In June 2017, his journey began as a freelance journalist and social media specialist for RockinghamNow, covering high school sports and leading a Twitter project. He was a part of expanded coverage of high school football within his local community. Through the use of Twitter, his team had a goal of significantly increasing the number of followers on multiple accounts. At The Podium Finish, he intends to provide professional motorsports coverage, focusing on series such as the NASCAR Cup Series, NTT IndyCar Series and more. He's also a Freelance Editor at NASCAR Digital Media and Multimedia Producer at GRID Network

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