By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
After he spent over a month out of the car, Zane Smith returned to the NASCAR Xfinity Series and earned his first career top-five finish.
The JR Motorsports driver lined up inside the top-five on the final restart with 10 laps to go. With the inside line a disadvantage throughout the CircuitCity.com 250, Smith quickly worked his way into the outside line. He then followed fellow part-time Xfinity driver Harrison Burton.
As Burton battled with Smith’s teammate, Justin Allgaier, the Huntington Beach, CA native was challenged from behind. Xfinity regulars Justin Haley and Chase Briscoe. Contact between the latter two gave Smith’s No. 8 LaPaz Margarita Mix Chevrolet Camaro SS breathing room. He then cruised to finish fifth at Iowa Speedway.
“I’m honestly super happy with this (finish),” Smith admitted. “Of course, we wanted a win, especially for my dad, LaPaz, and all of JR Motorsports. This was definitely a big step in the right direction. I learned a ton today, knowing what I need these things to feel like, run up front with those top guys, and that’s what we did today.
“I just can’t thank LaPaz Margarita Mix enough. They’ve been a sponsor of mine since I was seven-years-old. To have them here in the Xfinity Series is so cool.”
The top-five finish came in Smith’s fifth career start in the Xfinity Series. It is also his third top-10 finish. Smith narrowly missed the top-10 in his second career race and was swept up in a late-race accident at Las Vegas Motor Speedway while running inside the top-10.
The CircuitCity.com 250 marked the second race in a row in which all four of the JRM Chevrolets finished inside the top-10. Smith was one of two to finish inside the top-five. His fifth-place finish is the fourth top-five finish for the ‘All-Star’ car at JRM this season.
Smith’s next scheduled race in the ‘All-Star’ car for JRM is the Xfinity Series’ return to the Newton, IA track in the U.S. Cellular 250 on July 27.