Trackhouse Racing announced a multiyear driving agreement with 2022 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion Zane Smith that will see the top prospect drive in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2024. The team aims to operate three full-time NASCAR Cup Series entries in 2025 – in the interim, Smith will race full time in the Cup Series in 2024, driving a Chevrolet for Spire Motorsports in an alliance with Trackhouse.
Smith is in his fourth full-time season in the Craftsman Truck Series, spending the first two with Maury Gallagher’s GMS Racing before moving to Front Row Motorsports. The 24-year-old driver has been a part of the Championship 4 field in each of the last three years, converting a victory in the 2022 season finale into his first NASCAR national series title.
The full-time car at Spire will be Trackhouse-backed, and it comes after the Spire organization purchased a Charter from Live Fast Motorsports for a reported $40 million.
“Expansion is not something to be taken lightly, but we feel Trackhouse is commercially and technically positioned for growth,” said Trackhouse founder and owner Justin Marks. “You need good timing, very good partners and great drivers. Adding Zane is like signing the No. 1 draft pick and we are proud that he is now a member of the Trackhouse family.”
Smith qualified for the postseason again this year, on the strength of two wins — in February’s season opener at Daytona International Speedway and one month later at Circuit of The Americas. Those victories brought his career win total up to nine, which includes six in the last two seasons.
Smith has gained a dose of Cup Series experience the last two years, mostly as a part-time entrant with the Front Row team. His best finish in seven starts was a 10th-place result in this year’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The agreement brings Smith back into the Chevrolet camp and marks another stage in Trackhouse’s rapid growth in the Cup Series. The organization first entered NASCAR’s top division as a single-car outfit in 2021, but expanded into a two-car effort the next year, creating a launching pad for the first Cup Series victories for drivers Daniel Suárez and Ross Chastain.
Since then, Trackhouse has added a third part-time car for its Project 91 initiative, an entry intended to showcase international stars from other forms of motorsports. The No. 91 Chevrolet cashed in with the debut of New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen, who surged to victory in the inaugural Chicago Street Race.
It was recently announced that Van Gisbergen will compete for Trackhouse in multiple NASCAR national series in 2024.
“This is an incredible moment for me,” said Smith. “Trackhouse is one of the most progressive organizations in the garage. I told some friends a year ago that I wanted to be a part of what Trackhouse is doing and I just can’t believe this is all coming true. I am very excited and thankful to have a future with the organization.
“The Cup Series is the pinnacle of racing in America, and I cannot wait to compete, learn and hone my skills against the best in the world. I am really looking forward to working with the Spire Motorsports team in 2024 and believe the alliance with Trackhouse will help continue Spire’s ascent up the grid.”
Smith previously signed with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2021 to race for the organization in 2022. Marks’ purchase of the organization raised questions for Smith, who texted Marks for more information.
“We didn’t know that he was under any kind of contract or anything with Chip,” Marks said. “And so when I got the text, it was like, ‘Oh, (crap), OK. You know, we’re just not in a spot right now to do anything.’ But it was a moment that went on (team president) Ty (Norris)’s world famous whiteboard and it sat there for a long time.”
“I have recovered now,” Smith laughed. “I mean, it’s crazy how this is all gone and full circle. Not many years before that, I was walking through the gift shop getting CGR diecast cars and now it was the gym when I went there a couple of days ago. And I mean, just what attracted me to Trackhouse, obviously I want to be a part of it. I feel like every driver is always wanting to race on Sunday and it’s so dang hard to get there. And I don’t know, I said it over and over again to the people that were around me of, ‘Man, that’s a group I really want to be with. And I don’t know how we’re gonna make it happen. But I want to be there.'”
Being so close to a Cup deal in years past made the opportunity that much sweeter for Smith on Saturday in an emotional press conference.
“It is the world to me. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do,” Smith said. “The sacrifices that have been made are where the emotion comes from and how bad I want it. I will do whatever it takes to win on Sunday and I now have that chance thanks to Justin Marks. Just so, so thankful for the people I’ve have had around me and ready to compete on Sunday. It’s crazy to say.”