After a false start with a couple of misting showers raining over the 2.5 mile Daytona Superspeedway, it was the rain that got the last laugh as the race was called with 21 laps to go. The 2023 Daytona winner starts his championship defending season with a back-to-back win at the superspeedway, virtually making him a lock for the 2023 playoffs. After Smith pulled out the race-winning move before the final caution, the rains moved in and settled.
You Need To Know:
- With a threat of rain for most of the night, a daredevil of a move by Zane Smith got him the victory before the race-ending rains started to fall.
- Zane Smith opens up his championship-defending season with back-to-back wins at the world center of racing.
- This win solidifies Zane Smith as a clear favorite to repeat his championship winning season of 2022, putting much of the garage on notice.
This win should give Smith a sense of confidence heading into Sunday’s 65th running of the Daytona 500 as the part-time cup driver will be rolling off 17th in the No. 36 Mustang.
The Main Characters
With the looming threat of rain being a topic of discussion all night, it was a hair-splitting move that won him the race as he passed an out-of-shape Corey Lajoie on the inside to capture the lead on lap 65.
The rain itself was also a key character throughout the night as it got our race off to a slow start-and-stop start but once first moved in permanently just a few laps later on lap 74. There was a brief moment when the rain reduced to a fine mist and drivers were told to return to their trucks but a final shower with 21 laps to go put a nail in the coffin of any chance we were going back racing tonight.
Here is Zane Smith being informed that he is, in fact, the victor of the 2023 NextEra Energy 250 and the race had been called:
After his victory lane celebration, Smith posted the following on Twitter:
Around The Garage
Coming up short was Corey Lajoie. Here he talks with Matt Weaver about his disappointment:
Via Matt Weaver, Travis Pastrana feels more confident in mixing it up with the Cup regulars on Sunday. He also admits that he owes Matt Crafton a dollar.
And of course, Christian Eckles had something to say about Zane Smith Micky Mousing his way into another victory. This is what he told Regan Smith:
Smith’s team, Front Row Motorsports, always has his back:
Don’t know about being “handed” trophies. Smith earned them. The team theorizes that he collects them:
From The Officials
NASCAR tweeted out via their Craftsman Truck Series account on Twitter that the race had been called and that Zane Smith was the winner:
In The Stands
The race seemed to have left some fans disappointed with the ending. Mark Rosetti dubs it quite possible the worst NASCAR race he’s seen:
CJ Ashley posted this more lighthearted critical meme:
While other fans were more encouraging like Yankeeshub99:
And, of course, a slew of fans had a field day with Eckes’ Mickey Mouse comments at Smith’s expense:
Yes, PeacefulTim, he really did say it best.
And of course, Smith had to respond:
This fan had some comments on Smith’s Mickey Mouse trophy:
Some nice congratulatory responses to Zane Smith in response to his Twitter post:
This fan has been following Zane Smith since he passed KFB in a truck race at Charlotte:
On Your Screen
Eric Estepp did a rare truck series race recap in the wee hours of the morning on his program, OUT OF THE GROOVE:
The Iceberg also covered the aftermath of the race in this post-race stream:
Despite some fan’s opinions on rain-shortened wins, a win is indeed a win and Zane Smith just captured another trophy for his trophy case here tonight in front of the largest live crowd at a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Daytona since 2011!