Zane Smith earned his top finish of the season with JR Motorsports in the CircuitCity.com 250 at Iowa Speedway on Sunday, driving the No. 8 La Paz Cocktail Mix Camaro to the checkered flag in the fifth position. The top-five finish comes in Smith’s fifth start with JR Motorsports in the No. 8 Chevrolet.
Inclement weather shortened first practice on Saturday and canceled final practice, leaving Smith with only 21 laps of practice to get a feel for how his No. 8 La Paz Cocktail Mix Chevrolet would race in his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Iowa Speedway. However, this proved to be enough for the Huntington Beach, Calif.-native, who earned the team’s top qualifying effort on Sunday to start the 250-lap race from the third position.
Smith was running three-wide through the first two laps on the bottom groove, and was shuffled back several positions. He was quiet on the radio until the first caution flag came on lap 32, reporting to crew chief Taylor Moyer that his No. 8 Chevy was free getting in to start the run, then was tight in the center of the corner through the exit. Staying out, he restarted ninth and went to work. Gaining track position in the second half of the stage, Smith finished Stage One sixth.
Smith was in a heated battle through Stage Two with the No. 22 car, fighting for the fifth and sixth position. Adjustments made during the first pit stop of the day at the end of Stage One proved to be beneficial, as Smith radioed that the changes were positive as he maneuvered through the field and he needed more in that direction. He finished Stage Two sixth, and came down pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. The No. 8 pit crew had a solid stop to put Smith back into the top five and go to work in the final stage.
Positive changes continued to be an advantage for Smith, as he gained two positions on the restart and ran in the second position for the first 10 laps of the final stage. A caution came on lap 178 and Smith radioed to the team that he was too tight early in the run and it made him free off the corner. He wanted just a little less adjustments in the same direction to race to the checkers. Running in the top five for the final 75 laps, Smith brought home his top finish of the season with the No. 8 team, finishing fifth.
Christopher Bell won the race, with Cole Custer, JRM teammate Justin Allgaier, Harrison Burton and Smith completing the top five.
Zane Smith, driver No. 8 La Paz Cocktail Mix team
“That was a really fun day in our No. 8 La Paz Cocktail Mix Chevy. I believe this is the fifth consecutive top-10 finish, and for this team and for La Paz it was super cool to be able to run up front. I only get a limited amount of starts, so I want to make sure that each one counts when I have the opportunity. Running in the top five for me and for the team gives us a lot of momentum. I’m lucky to have Chicagoland Speedway as my next race, so we’ll have a little bit of consistency and run back-to-back and hopefully get a good finish there.”