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Zane Smith was on fire Saturday at Circuit of the Americas, winning the XPEL 225. But his truck literally went up in flames.
The 23-year-old from Huntington Beach, Calif., held off longtime Cup star Kyle Busch to become a repeat champ in the Craftsman Series truck race in Austin. Friction from a rubber buildup on a flap then ignited his truck, though the flames were extinguished.
"Catching my truck on fire in victory lane, that's a first for me," said Smith, driver of the No. 38 Ford, who won the season-opening race at Daytona. "Apologies for that, but another big day for us at COTA."
Busch, in the No. 51 Chevrolet, dominated much of the race until pit strategy played a decisive role. While leading, Busch came in for tires after the second stage. Smith stayed out.
"Allowing us to put Kyle back there was huge," Smith said. "When they told me he had climbed back to second, my heartbeat went up a bit."
Busch, a favorite for Sunday's Texas Grand Prix Cup main event, acknowledged the obvious.
"The decision not to pit, duh," he said. "We wanted the freshest tires at the end. We played the long game; unfortunately, it didn't work."
Ty Majeski finished third. Pole-sitter Ross Chastain, the 2022 Cup winner at COTA, was fifth. Hailie Deegan, the only woman in the series, was 16th in a damaged truck.
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Smith surges to victory in NASCAR truck race