By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
After running full-time with one driver over the past two seasons and scoring back-to-back championships, JR Motorsports will have multiple drivers climbing behind the wheel of its No. 9 Chevrolet in 2019.
On Tuesday, the first piece of that puzzle was unveiled as the team announced that ARCA standout Zane Smith will be running a total of eight NASCAR Xfinity Series races, starting with the March 2nd race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“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 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.”
In addition to Las Vegas, Smith will also be running at Bristol Motor Speedway (April 6), Richmond Raceway (April 12 and Sept. 20), Dover International Speedway (May 4 and Oct. 5) and Iowa Speedway (June 16 and July 27).
Smith has run in the ARCA Racing Series over the past three seasons, driving part-time in 2016 and 2017 before transitioning over to a full-time schedule in 2018. In 36 starts, Smith scored four wins, 19 top-five finishes, 25 top-10 finishes, three poles, and 569 laps led.
He finished a career-high second in points this past season driving for MDM Motorsports.
The 19-year old Huntington Beach, California native also ran one NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race in 2018 for DGR-Crosley, finishing fifth at Gateway Motorsports Park.
“Zane is going to be an important part of the lineup for the No. 9 team next year,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr., 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.”
The team noted that the other drivers that will be a part of the No. 9 team in 2019 would be announced at a later date, in addition to the sponsorship and crew chief lineups.