Zane Smith to run partial Xfinity schedule with JR Motorsports
NASCAR Next driver Zane Smith will compete part-time next season in the Xfinity Series with JR Motorsports.
Smith, the 2018 ARCA Series runner-up, will drive the team’s No. 9 Chevrolet in a minimum of eight races spread throughout the 2019 Xfinity Series season. His first race will be the March 2 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Smith, 19, ended his first ARCA season driving for MDM Motorsports with four wins, 12 top-five and 13 top-10 finishes in 20 races and also won one pole.
“Zane is going to be an important part of the lineup for the No. 9 team next year,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr., co-owner of JRM. “It’s a great opportunity for him. The team is going to take on a different feel with a handful of drivers taking turns throughout the year, but the goal remains the same - to help these drivers gain experience and continue to advance their careers.
“We started the Xfinity program with that mindset and it’s something we’re proud to continue.”
In addition to Las Vegas, Smith’s current remaining schedule includes Bristol (April 6), Richmond (April 12 and Sept. 20), Dover (May 4 and Oct. 5) and Iowa (June 16 and July 27).
Smith, a native of Huntington Beach, Calif., made ARCA history this year with the closest finish in the series’ history at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway edging Joe Graf Jr. in a photo finish with a 0.0029 second margin of victory.
In June, Smith also made his Truck Series debut with DGR-Crosley at Gateway (Ill.) Motorsports Park qualifying 10th and finishing fifth.
Smith started racing BMX, before moving to go-kart racing in 2004 and won championships in five consecutive years before jumping to Legends Car racing and eventually Super Late Models in 2015. He earned a runner-up finish in the coveted Snowball Derby race later that year.
“I’m super pumped to be a part of JR Motorsports with the No. 9 team for eight races,” Smith said. “I’m counting down the days until Las Vegas, which will be my debut in the Xfinity series. I can’t thank The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas enough for making this happen, along with all of my other partners who have gotten me this far.
“Having Dale and Kelley (Earnhardt-Miller) as bosses and to lean on is going to be awesome. They are huge icons of the sport. It is unreal to be a part of their team, so I’m just going to try and take it all in.”
Additional drivers for the No. 9 team, along with the crew chief and sponsor partner lineup will be named at a later date.
JRM will field three other fulltime teams in 2019 – Noah Gragson in the No. 1, Michael Annett in the No. 5 and Justin Allgaier in the No. 7.