Zane Smith, driving Front Row Motorsports’ #38 Ford, bounced back late in the race to win Friday night’s Truck Series final and his first series championship. Smith, 23, was the only Ford driver eligible to win the season title, having to face off against three Toyota drivers.
In a commanding performance, Joey Logano, driving Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford, won Sunday’s Cup series final and claimed his second career title (the other in 2018).
Like Smith, Logano was the only Ford driver eligible for the title, but he faced a Toyota driver and a Chevrolet pair.
“The truck race on Friday and the championship and Zane Smith and what Front Row Motorsports did in starting this program and Zane being as strong as he is and again a dominant race that he also had, so he has a very good performance. strong future in the sport,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director of motorsport, Ford Performance.
“This means a lot to us because the Truck Series is important to us. It’s a great place for talent, for us to develop all elements of the team and especially the drivers. So that was an important day for us.
“And then to end with the Cup Series and Joey and the championship, it was a great weekend.”
Zane Smith, Front Row Motorsports, Michael Roberts Construction Ford F-150 celebrates his victory and championship
Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images
Smith will return for another full-time season at Trucks next season with Front Row, but will also run several Cup Series races for the organization, including the 2023 Daytona 500.
Logano’s title made him the first Ford driver since David Pearson won back-to-back titles in 1968 and 1969 to win multiple championships. Both came to Penske, who joined Ford in NASCAR starting in the 2013 season.
“Having Team Penske as part of Ford, as a partner with Ford, they’re such a strong team, such a great partner, and you’ve seen the strength in their cars (in the race) and through most of the season,” Rushbrook said. .
“Joey, I don’t remember how many times he’s been in Championship 4, but it seems like almost every year he’s been, and he delivers. He’s a runner. He pays attention to every detail and especially gets stuck in the beginning like he did.
“That’s all he’s focused on for the last three weeks, and (crew boss) Paul Wolfe and the team and everyone. He is so committed and so strong and he executed every lap.”
Ford has had its share of difficulties throughout the 2022 season adapting to the next next-gen car, including a tire rubber problem building up at times and lighting up the rocker box on the front of its Mustangs.
Brad Keselowski’s #6 Ford experienced the problem again towards the end of Sunday’s race, which ended its day early.
“I think there’s a lot in the sport that we still need to discover. NASCAR made a lot of changes mid-season, which certainly seemed to help, but there’s a lot of track-to-track variability,” Rushbrook said.
“A lot of that is down to rubber buildup, and Brad (Keselowski) last week at Martinsville there was almost no rubber buildup on his car. Obviously this week has been a lot. We need to take a look at that during the off-season as a sport, as a manufacturer, and see what we can do to improve next season.”
Still, Ford was literally celebrating from start to finish this season.
It kicked off the NASCAR season with preseason Clash wins at the Los Angeles Coliseum with Logano and rookie Austin Cindric’s win at the Daytona 500 and then closed it off with Logano’s win and the Cup championship.
“At the end of the day, at the end of the season, it’s the championship that matters. So to get the Truck championship and the Cup championship, that means a lot. It’s great to see our young drivers excel too,” said Rushbrook.
“So with Austin Cindric as a rookie going into the Daytona 500 and winning and Chase Briscoe getting a win in Phoenix earlier in the season, strength in our different teams and our drivers, we are very happy with where our program is. right now.”