Trackhouse Racing’s Latest Recruit Left Disgruntled as Front Row Motorsports Pull-Off Costly Kevin Harvick Repeat

Published 10/21/2023, 10:07 PM EDT

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In NASCAR, history often repeats itself. While Ryan Blaney’s overturned disqualification might not have been accurately a part of NASCAR’s glorious history, in recent news, it arrived as a deja vu instead. In the past few weeks, NASCAR has had to make decisions on drivers who seemed to violate the regulations of vehicle equipment. Beginning with the runner-up to Blaney, Kevin Harvick, at Talladega, this has come down to Trackhouse Racing’s new recruit, Zane Smith. 

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The pattern of disqualification has spread to the Craftsman Truck Series as well, from the looks of it. In the recently concluded race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the defending Truck Series champion, Zane Smith, had to face a similar fate as his title defense underwent a rough patch. The #38 Ford driver hasn’t run this season as strongly as he did last season and has faced a must-win situation. Alas, it didn’t turn out as he would have wanted. 

NASCAR handed Zane Smith a similar penalty to Kevin Harvick

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Section 14.4.7.1 of the NASCAR Rule Book is a specific reference for a race car’s windshield. At Talladega, Kevin Harvick had to experience the feeling of agony after he went hot on the heels of eventual winner Ryan Blaney yet crossed the finish line merely 0.012 seconds after the #12 Ford. That was an unexpected setback for the #4 driver, who became the first person to be disqualified at Talladega Superspeedway since 1972. 

While Kevin Harvick and his crew chief dismissed any claims of cheating after the post-race inspection, Zane Smith did not have to face any such accusations. Smith needed nothing but a win to get his spot in the championship race in Phoenix and he had a similar storyline to Harvick’s. As the rising youngster Carson Hocevar sped to a win, all of Smith’s efforts ended up in vain as he was sent back to the back of the pack amidst the sorrows of an end to his championship hopes. 

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The disqualification also strips Smith of the 16 valuable stage points he earned on an unfortunate evening. Following the incident, Front Row Motorsports has expressed its dissatisfaction with the decision as NASCAR begins the inspection process to identify the anomaly in the #38’s windshield. 

We are disappointed in the disqualification from today’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event. We will continue to work and discuss with NASCAR officials back at the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, N.C., before making any further comment. We will continue to work and discuss with NASCAR officials back at the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, N.C. before making any further comment.

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The primary concern for NASCAR will be to investigate the intention behind a loosened windshield. Should the reason be found to be an intentional change by the #38 team, the ruling body might have to decide on another penalty. FRM has denied any allegations of the incident being an intentional one on its side and is ready to cooperate with the authorities. 

Did Trackhouse Racing’s new recruit have a real chance at the Championship 4 race?

The list of eligible drivers for the Craftsman Truck Series’ final race has been prepared. Carson Hocevar, Corey Heim, Grant Enfinger, and Ben Rhodes will battle it out against each other at the Phoenix Raceway. Rhodes will have a huge advantage in the race with his former experience winning the championship and could play a big role in stopping the juggernaut of Hocevar.

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Carson Hocevar, who has gone on to prove his mettle in recent months of Cup Series racing, is the leading contender for the big prize. The 20-year-old was also one of the drivers at Talladega when Kevin Harvick was demoted to P38 after toiling hard for a nail-biting P2 finish. The same youngster was also the reason why Zane Smith isn’t among the Championship 4 today. 

While the conclusion of NASCAR’s investigation into the #38’s windshield is yet to be found, it is worth noting that, apart from that, Smith had a very remote chance. Although he did have a solid chance of winning the race in theory, Hocevar stood in his way of doing that.

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With that, the eligible grid has been finalized for Phoenix. For the soon-to-be-defunct GMS Racing driver Grant Enfinger, the race at Phoenix will also be a last chance at a championship-winning sendoff for one of NASCAR’s talent-producing teams and a powerhouse in the Truck Series.

Watch This Story: Kevin Harvick’s legendary tribute: A farewell to remember 

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Written by:

Ansuman Abhisek

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Ansuman Abhisek is a NASCAR Author at EssentiallySports. With a strong affinity for automobile design, it didn't take long for him to translate that into his love for the sport. He is a big admirer of Kyle Busch and believes that the Richard Childress Driver still has his best years ahead of him along with his ability to walk the talk.
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Edited by:

Shivali Nathta

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