Zane Smith to join Trackhouse Racing. Truck Series champ to start Cup career on loan to Spire
By JENNA FRYER
(AP) -- Truck Series champion Zane Smith has been signed to a multi-year contract with Trackhouse Racing in which he will be loaned to Spire Motorsports for a Cup Series ride in 2024.
Smith, 24, will fold into the Trackhouse lineup when the team is able to expand to three full-time Cup cars. Trackhouse currently fields full-time Cup cars for championship contender Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez. Earlier this week it committed to a driver development program for Shane van Gisbergen once he makes his move from Australian V8 Supercars at the end of this year.
Smith will drive a third entry for Spire, which purchased a charter from Live Fast Motorsports to form the alliance with Trackhouse. He became emotional Saturday at the news conference at Bristol Motor Speedway that introduced Smith as a Cup driver.
“This just means the world to me. I almost didn't have anything (job) a couple of years ago,” Smith said as he composed himself. “It was 365 days ago, I sat at Bob Evans with a very close friend and he asked me where I want to race one day. I think he expected maybe a different answer, but my answer was ‘Trackhouse’ and almost 365 days later I signed a contract with them."
Justin Marks, founder of Trackhouse, said although Smith will eventually be directly part of Trackhouse, the team was not ready to expand to three full-time Cup cars. He will have a presence in the Trackhouse organization despite driving for Spire.
“We can't rush it and we didn't want to throw it together late. It's just has to be a process that's going to take course over some time,” said Marks. “A third team takes time and it takes a lot of money. It makes sense for us to put Zane in an established team where he can focus on the driving and we can focus on everything we can to support him over there.”
Smith is a nine-time winner competing in his fourth full Truck Series season. He has also run seven Cup Series races in the last two seasons and was 10th in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May.
Smith is currently ranked fifth in the Truck Series standings with three playoff races remaining to win a second consecutive title. He's spent the past two seasons driving for Front Row Motorsports, which also gave him five Cup starts and his seat for the Coca-Cola 600.
"We want to thank Zane for all the memories he’s already made with us and we hope for more before the end of the season. We wish him the best in the future and seeing him on Sunday’s," said Front Row owner Bob Jenkins. “We also look forward to making new memories next season with our truck program. We’ll have more news soon.”
Live Fast, meanwhile, said it will scale back to a part-time team and compete in the Cup Series without a charter.
AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing
Updated September 17, 2023