By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
JR Motorsports’ tradition of giving young talent a chance continues as Zane Smith will make his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut this weekend. The Drivers Edge Development program participant will drive the team’s No. 8 Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Chevrolet Camaro SS in the Boyd Gaming 300.
When Smith takes the green flag on Saturday afternoon, he joins JR Motorsports alums Josh Berry, William Byron, Cole Custer, Chase Elliott, Danica Patrick, and Ben Rhodes who all made their Xfinity debut with the organization. Byron and Elliott, along with Tyler Reddick, all went one to win the Xfinity Series Championship in their rookie seasons with JRM.
Although Smith has limited experience, he and his JRM team participated in a test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway earlier this year. In the two-day test, he was second fastest and fastest respectively. Smith has been shadowing his No. 8 team as Chase Elliott and Ryan Preece competed at Daytona International Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway respectively. The team has two top-10s in the two races this season.
“This weekend is going to be big being my Xfinity Series debut and at a track close to home,” Smith explained. “I can’t thank everyone who has gotten me to this point enough – especially Dale, Kelley and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Having been able to shadow my No. 8 team in Daytona and Atlanta, and also test at Las Vegas (Motor Speedway) with them earlier this year, I have good confidence heading into Saturday’s race. Hopefully we can have a solid weekend from start to finish and be in contention to win in the end.”
In six starts on 1.5-mile tracks in the ARCA Menards Series, Smith has four top-five finishes and one pole position. His best finish on a 1.5-mile track, second, came at Kentucky Speedway in 2017. In 36 total ARCA starts, Smith has four victories, 19 top-five, and 25 top-10 finishes.
Smith made his NASCAR National Series debut last year at Gateway Motorsports Park in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series with DGR – Crosley Group. He started 10th and finished fifth in his only national series start to date.
Las Vegas is the first of eight races currently scheduled for Smith, the next being at Bristol Motor Speedway in April.