It might only be July but the 2022 NASCAR Truck Series playoffs are here and will begin on Friday night as the series returns to Lucas Oil Raceway for the first time since the 2011 season.
Who will make the Championship 4 and claim the title in Phoenix, AZ?
NASCAR Truck Series: Round of 10
- John Hunter Nemechek: (1 win: Lucas Oil) – 6 playoff points
- Chandler Smith: (1 win: Richmond) – 6 playoff points
- Ty Majeski: (1 win: Kansas) – 5 playoff points
- Zane Smith: 2 playoff points
- Christian Eckes: 1 playoff point
- Ben Rhodes
- Grant Enfinger: 1 playoff point
- Carson Hocevar
Eliminated: Stewart Friesen, Matt Crafton
John Hunter Nemechek (Lucas Oil), Chandler Smith (Richmond), and Ty Majeski (Kansas) all secure victories during the Round of 10 that lock them into the next round.
Meanwhile, regular season champion Zane Smith comfortably makes the next round due to stage points and his playoff points obtained throughout the season.
Teammates Christian Eckes and Ben Rhodes find their way into the Round of 8 due to solid performances. Both will get close to victories during the three-race stretch.
Grant Enfinger and Carson Hocevar will round out the grid as they point their way in over Stewart Friesen and Matt Crafton. Most notably, Hocevar sneaks in after some early troubles.
Friesen and Crafton don’t advance and mark it a disappointing season, especially for Friesen who had been really solid entering this year’s playoffs.
NASCAR needs to return to Iowa Speedway
NASCAR Truck Series: Round of 8
- Zane Smith: (1 win: Bristol) – 6 playoff points
- John Hunter Nemechek: (1 win: Homestead) – 7 playoff points
- Chandler Smith: 1 playoff point
- Ty Majeski
Eliminated: Christian Eckes, Ben Rhodes, Carson Hocevar, Grant Enfinger
The Round of 8 is going to be a very tight battle as drivers look to lock themselves into the Championship 4 with a chance of becoming a NASCAR champion.
Zane Smith starts that process when he wins the first race of the round at Bristol. The venue always puts on good shows and this one goes the same way with Smith passing Chandler Smith right at the end.
The second event of the round is Talladega; however, a playoff driver will not win the race with only John Hunter Nemechek securing a playoff point. It would be another year that a non-playoff driver wins during the playoffs.
Finally, the NASCAR Truck Series returns to Homestead and it is going to be a fun show. The track plays into John Hunter Nemechek’s hands as he takes home the victory and another shot at a title.
Chandler Smith will point his way in easily as the top-3 drivers on the season control their destiny and end up fighting for the title in Phoenix.
Meanwhile, Ty Majeski comes out victorious for the final spot in the Championship 4 and continues his underdog story as he seeks a NASCAR championship.
NASCAR Truck Series: Championship 4
- Chandler Smith
- John Hunter Nemechek
- Zane Smith
- Ty Majeski
If anyone remembers what happened at the championship race last season, they will remember that Chandler Smith swept the entire event despite not being in the hunt for a title.
Smith replicates his performance from that night and secures his first NASCAR Truck Series championship despite a late rally from teammate John Hunter Nemechek.
The 20-year-old driver also had the best truck at Gateway earlier in the season, which is similar to Phoenix in the way the track drives. It’s not a surprise who the favorite is in the event.
As stated above, Nemechek comes up just short but still had a strong season with three victories. It might not be what he was searching for in the Truck Series, but it’s still a valiant effort.
Zane Smith’s breakout year comes to an end with a third-place finish in the championship, but it’s still a successful season as he proved he truly belongs in NASCAR once again.
Ty Majeski’s magical run doesn’t end in a championship, but it’s a fantastic story going from a part-time driver to a Championship 4 driver in the course of one year.
In the end, Chandler Smith’s momentum and confidence at Phoenix is the deciding factor as it is statistically one of his best tracks on the schedule. It’s also what was predicted at the start of the season.
Champion: No. 18 Chandler Smith