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MADISON, Ill. – A blisteringly hot Saturday (June 2) afternoon saw the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series go to battle at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, and with the laps winding down, the race looked to be a battle between the three dominant drivers of the day: Zane Smith, Grant Enfinger and Ty Majeski.
A restart with 19 laps to go saw Smith retain the lead on the restart, and in about six laps, Enfinger and Majeski were up to second and third after restarting in the middle of the top 10.
Enfinger, who led the most laps of the race, and Majeski, who won the pole, only had the No. 38 truck standing in the way of victory.
But to their dismay, Smith was beginning to pull a gap out front. He might’ve gone on to win had the race finished under green, but a Lawless Alan spin with 11 to go set the field up for another restart.
With Smith on the outside and Enfinger on the inside for the restart, Smith launched out to the lead with six laps to go after Enfinger spun the tires. The No. 23 truck’s slow start allowed Majeski to carve his way up to second and pull even with Smith on the backstretch.
With Smith and Majeski side-by-side, Enfinger got a run and thought about making it three-wide into turn 3 before backing out. That proved to be a wise choice, as Majeski got loose on the bottom and lost the nose of his truck in the turn. He washed up the track into Smith, and both drivers were out of winning contention after running up front all day.
With the field set for an overtime restart, Enfinger easily held serve for his ninth career Truck Series win and his first at Gateway.
Majeski immediately took the blame after he exited the care center.
“Got into [turn] 3, obviously trying to get ahead of the [no.] 38,” Majeski said. “Hit the splitter, had to check up and went up the racetrack. And obviously, when you go up the racetrack, his side took the air off of mine, and obviously I went around and wrecked us both.
“Inexcusable, misjudged it. Just trying to win the race, obviously wrecked two really good Ford F-150s. Disappointed in myself, got to execute when you got the fastest truck by a mile like that. Just inexcusable, got to be better.”
Smith, who now has four straight finishes of 20th or worse, didn’t put on a happy face when talking to the media.
“I went to go find [Majeski] to see if I got hit or something, I didn’t know what his plan was there,” Smith said. “I saw an interview earlier today or yesterday where, this track he has more experience at than any others, [but he] still races like it’s his first time here.
“We see time and time again that the guy on the bottom just has to be kind of conservative, and that’s why the leaders always choose the top. Maybe he’ll learn next time.
Smith also wasn’t happy with the quality of driving in the Truck Series as a whole.
“It’s just a bummer, I kind of did it to myself with staying in this series,” Smith said. “It is pretty unbelievable how scary some of these guys are.
“We’ve just had now four bad weeks, some self-inflicted. But our day obviously snowballs once we get around some of these guys. So, just frustrating.”
About the author
Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.
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