Rookie Zane Smith and his No. 8 The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas team pieced together a solid outing in Saturday’s Alsco 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway, battling back from a lap down on three separate occasions to score an 11th-place finish.
Smith’s day began amid adversity due to an engine change that forced the No. 8 team to relinquish its 16-place starting spot and begin the race from the rear of the field. Early on, it became simply a matter of survival as Smith fired off mired among traffic from the outset. Despite the setback, Smith hustled the car around the half-mile bullring, gaining several positions and climbing to 25th before heavy traffic forced him to fall a lap down.
As the laps of Stage One wound down, Smith muscled the free pass position from the No. 08 of Gray Gaulding and returned to the lead lap in 14th for the conclusion of Stage One in 14th, commenting he needed the car to turn a little better during the next run.
After pitting for four tires, fuel and adjustments, the team restarted Stage Two in 14th. Smith found a good pace and clicked off impressive lap times, but again mid-pack traffic hampered progress and dropped him a lap down. A caution on lap 166 afforded the team its second free pass of the race. Smith would go on to finish 13th in the stage.
With helpful tips from team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was atop the pit box, Smith experimented with several different lines to try and maximize his Chevrolet’s speed after taking the green flag for the final stage in 13th. The team was still battling a tight condition with Smith saying he needed more turn out of the car. The race’s fourth caution on lap 261 gave the No. 8 team its third free pass on the day and brought Smith to pit road for the final time. Crew chief Taylor Moyer used the opportunity to make adjustments on the car for the push to the end. Smith restarted 12th and moved up one position on the scoring pylon to finish 11th.
Christopher Bell won the race and was followed to the line by Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer, Chase Briscoe and John Hunter Nemechek.
Zane Smith, driver No. 8 The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas team
“First off, I’ve got to thank my team. Taylor (Moyer, crew chief) and everyone worked their tails off this weekend. We knew we had our work cut out for us starting at the rear but we kept our heads down and just went to work. It was a challenge in the beginning being stuck in traffic. But we never quit and did a good job positioning ourselves for those free passes all race long. It paid off in the end. All in all, it was a solid day for our The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas team and I’m glad to be getting back in the car next weekend at Richmond.”