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Sep 21, 2023
After announcing a multi-year agreement with Trackhouse Racing which will allow him to compete in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2024 with Spire Motorsports, Zane Smith joined Racing America’s “The Bullring” to discuss the big news.
Able to now look back on Saturday’s announcement at Bristol Motor Speedway, Smith can both savor the journey that has led to him becoming a full-time Cup Series driver and the excitement he felt to share the news.
“It was an awesome day that I will never forget at Bristol the other day. I signed that pretty much Kansas weekend. It had been killing me to get that out there and actually announced. It really sunk in there in the media center. It’s awesome. It’s what I’ve worked for all my life, and to do it with a group like Trackhouse is super exciting.
“It had been going on for a few months, to say the least. There were not only them, but a few groups. I was really taking time to really consider everyone and measuring out the pros and cons. Trackhouse was a lot more pros than cons. That’s what had me leaning towards them.“
Earlier this year, Smith scored a top-10 finish in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway as part of a limited Cup schedule with Front Row Motorsports. He believes moments such as that performance and Michael McDowell’s playoff berth show “underdog” teams such as Front Row and his home for next season, Spire Motorsports, can compete at the highest level.
“The whole Cup Series is different now. You see underdog teams that are really performing now. It’s because it’s a really equal playing field. I feel like Front Row Motorsports was declared an underdog team, and I don’t know if you’d call them that anymore. Michael [McDowell] has made the playoffs, and both cars are strong.
“It’s so, so easy to be off on the Cup side. I figured that out with my limited starts this year, and it’s really hard to be on. It’s the quality of people you have on that make these cars go fast. It’s always been like that, but now everyone’s in a tighter area where everything’s more equal.”
Smith is drawn to Trackhouse in part by co-owner Justin Marks’ enthusiasm and leadership, and the impact that he’s seen that have on the entire team during his visits to the shop.
“The biggest thing I saw was obviously Justin’s young leadership, sponsors, different things he was doing, that he was bringing to the sport, a different mindset. The biggest thing is his leadership. I feel like leadership is massive in this industry, and any professional sport.
“Typically, not every single person in the shop is having a great day. When I went through there and did a quick shop tour everybody was happy and excited to be there. I knew right then I made the right decision. You want people around you that are going to be making your race cars go fast, spending your career with, happy to be there and wanting to succeed as much as you do.”
The Bullring is a weekly talk show hosted by Alan Dietz and Jess Ballard, bringing the biggest names in racing together to break down what happened the previous weekend, or look ahead to the biggest events next weekend. The Bullring is free to watch for all viewers every Wednesday at 7 PM on RacingAmerica.TV and Racing America's social media platforms, and the replay is available at any time afterward.
-Photo credit: Jonathan McCoy/Racing America