While Smith, 24, got off to a strong start to the 2023 season with a pair of wins in the first four races, he and his No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford team have experienced their share of issues since.
In one four-race span, the native of Huntington Beach, Calif., finished 20th or worse and he crashed out of two races this season.
Smith is on a little more of an upswing as the playoffs get under way with Friday night’s race at Indianapolis Raceway Park. He has three top-three finishes in his last four races, including a third most recently at Richmond, Va.
“To be honest, last year we hardly had any adversity and this year I feel like our race team is in a great position, it’s just had a lot of ups and downs,” Smith said.
“We just need to do the small things a little bit better and focus on our end result a little bit more, instead of so focused on those stage wins. Yes, they were extremely important, but I’m happy where our race team is.
“Unfortunately, I’ve had some torn up trucks throughout the process, which sucks for everyone at FRM, but we win together and we lose together.”
Zane Smith, Front Row Motorsports, Tipico Sportsbook Ford F-150
Photo by: David Rosenblum / NKP / Motorsport Images
Smith still finished the regular season third in the series standings and is seeded second entering the playoffs. Corey Heim won the regular season title and holds a 30-22 advantage over Smith in playoff points.
One bright spot for Smith heading into the playoff opener at IRP is his team’s strength this season on short tracks.
Smith won the pole at the dirt race Bristol and Martinsville and finished third at Martinsville and Richmond. Richmond is also a track on which Smith had struggled in the past.
Smith has one previous start at IRP, finishing third.
“I think everyone on our team likes short track racing. It’s a lot of fun for our series and Zane has proven himself on these tracks,” said Smith’s crew chief, Chris Lawson. “It’s a good track for us to start this playoff run.”
“The adversity we’ve faced has only made us better as we begin this playoff run. I think we’re still bringing fast trucks and executing well,” he said. “We just need to keep doing that.”
Source : Motorsport.com