NASCAR notebook: Smith wins Truck race, Mayer takes ARCA event on Friday

DOVER — The last thing Zane Smith needed right then was a restart.

This time, however, the 21-year-old rookie drive was up to the challenge.

Smith survived the restart with two laps left to win the KDI Office Technology 200 on Friday at Dover International Speedway.

The victory was Smith’s his second NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series win of the season. The race was the second of six being held on the Monster Mile this weekend.

The races are being run without fans because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Smith held off Matt Crafton and GMS Racing teammate Brett Moffitt over the final two laps. He has now won two of the last three races in the series.

Smith looked to have the win in hand when the caution flag flew on lap 192. Stewart Friesen spun out in turn two to bring out the yellow flag.

Smith topped Crafton by .898 seconds, with Moffitt taking third.

“What an awesome truck,” Smith said. “I think we all know that I suck at restarts, but I picked a good time to have a good one. Man, two wins. This is by far the most fun I’ve ever had racing in my career. I’m just so blessed to be here.”

By winning the second leg of the Triple Truck Challenge, Smith earned a $50,000 bonus.

On an earlier restart on Lap 98, after the second stage break, Smith led the field to green but spun his tires and lost three positions. Moffitt was hoping for a similar result when he chose the bottom lane for the final restart.

“The restart before, the 21 (Smith) got a terrible launch on the outside and lost a few positions, but, ultimately, I didn’t get a good launch there on the bottom, and the 21 did,” said Moffitt, the 2018 series champion.

“He went a little earlier than I thought he would. Frustrating … I don’t know, we’ve got to get better.”

The race produced little change on either side of the Gander Truck Series Playoff bubble, with 10th-place Todd Gilliland doubling his advantage over 11th-place Derek Kraus to four points. Ten drivers qualify for the postseason. There are three races left before the Playoff opener Sept. 17 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“We’re right on the bubble and we need to have these good days, but the guys around us are stepping up, too,” said Gilliland, who finished fourth to Kraus’ 10th on Friday. “So we’ve just got to maximize every day.”

Mayer wins at Dover again

Sam Mayer passed race leader Ty Gibbs with just 20 laps remaining before posting a win in the General Tire 125 ARCA Series race. It was the first event of the day on Friday at Dover.

The 17-year-old from Franklin, Wisconsin became only the third driver to win back-to-back East races at Dover and the first since current NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series points leader Austin Hill accomplished the feat in 2013-14.

“I had a really good feeling walking over the bridge today,” Mayer said. “I like race tracks where you can go hard in the paint.

“We were really, really good all day long. The crew brought a great car here. Toward the end I was able to make it work and make it stick and it got us to Victory Lane.

“Now I have a regular Monster Trophy to go with the Golden Monster (from last year).”

Mayer also built his lead in the ARCA Menards Series East championship with his second win in three races this season. He now leads Gibbs by 13 points.

Mayer entered the day with a one-point lead over Gibbs, who led the first 105 laps before Mayer was able to significantly close the gap. Mayer moved Gibbs out of the way and powered by to take the lead.

Gibbs appeared to have a right front tire down as he slammed into the Turn 2 wall five laps later, ending his day prematurely and leaving him with a 12th-place finish.

NASCAR Cup Series driver David Gilliland, in a second car for his DGR-Crosley team, finished second — 2.330 seconds behind Mayer.

Playoff possibilities

With three Cup races remaining, this weekend’s two races could have a lot to say about who claims the final six playoff transfer spots.

Ten drivers have clinched their spot in the postseason on wins: Kevin Harvick (six wins), Denny Hamlin (five), Brad Keselowski (three), Chase Elliott (two), Joey Logano (two), Ryan Blaney (one), Martin Truex Jr. (one), Alex Bowman (one), Austin Dillon (one), Cole Custer (one).

Then there are 10 drivers who have already clinched a top 30 spot in the points. A win this weekend would guarantee them a playoff spot.

That group includes Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell.

Notes

Dover’s schedule is believed to be the first time in NASCAR history that one track will host six points-paying events across one weekend of racing. … The two Cup races this weekend will be broken up into three stages: The first is 70 miles, the second is 115 miles and the third is 126 miles. … These will be the 101st and 102nd Cup races at Dover. … There are nine former Cup Dover winners entered this weekend: Jimmie Johnson (11 wins), Kyle Busch (three), Martin Truex Jr. (three), Matt Kenseth (three), Ryan Newman (two), Kevin Harvick (two), Brad Keselowski (one), Chase Elliott (one) and Kurt Busch (one). … The two 4 p.m. green flags this weekend may be the latest starting times for Dover Cup races. … Matt DiBenedetto will be making his 200th career NASCAR Cup Series start today. … Justin Allgaier is the only previous Xfinity Series winner at Dover in the field this weekend.