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Smith wins wild Trucks race at Martinsville

Smith wins wild Trucks race at Martinsville

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MARTINSVILLE – To the victor goes the respect – a quality in short supply in the Camping World Trucks Series, apparently.

Zane Smith took advantage of an overtime crash to win the United Rentals 200 on Saturday, fighting his way into the Championship 4 on a day several drivers were left cursing the way they were raced by their rivals.

“I am looking for a job right now. I have nothing,” a jubilant Smith said in Victory Lane. “It’s a good day.”

Smith will be racing for the title next week in Phoenix along with Ben Rhodes, Matt Crafton and John Hunter Nemechek. The latter two took adventurous routes to qualification, with Nemechek barely making it in despite crashing out of the race with 70 laps to go.

Smith entered the day in last place among the remaining playoff drives, 40 points below the cutline.

“When you’re in a must-win, it’s kind of in your favor,” he said, “just because of how aggressive you can be.”

Smith was running third in overtime when Stewart Friesen and Todd Gilliland wrecked on the frontstretch. The caution came out moments later after Smith had taken the white flag, freezing the field and awarding him the victory.

Nemechek had to watch the finish from the infield after being taken out on lap 130 by Austin Wayne Self, who entered the day 14th in points and out of the playoff picture.

“There’s no respect there from guys that are out of the playoffs to guys that are in the playoffs,” said Nemechek, adding that he was “pacing” throughout the final 70 laps feeling powerless. “We’re all fighting for a title shot. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and there is a lack of respect in this series.

“There’s guys out here trying to prove their name. I get that. They’re young, they’re trying to succeed. But wrecking somebody in the middle of the race for no reason isn’t going to get you very far. It’s going to create more enemies.”

Crafton also made a temporary enemy out of his buddy, Sheldon Creed, who got shuffled out of a top-10 position late in the race when Crafton made contact with Grant Enfinger on a restart.

“Just get driven into,” said Creed, who entered the race five points above the cutline. “Not that I haven’t done it in the past, but just because of the circumstances and not making the final four, it sucks. ... What a frustrating way to end that. Not a lot of respect.”

It all makes for a potentially tense finale at Phoenix, as one week isn’t a long time to mend relationships.

“I’m not going to just drive through somebody to win a championship,” Crafton said. “Are you going to lay a fender to them? Are you going to put a bumper to them? Yeah, absolutely. But if you want to be a punk and go wreck somebody to win a championship, that isn’t me.

“At the end of the day, if I do get wrecked for a championship, there is a gate that we can go outside, and we’ll settle it there.”

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