Chicagoland Xfinity Recap: Zane Smith

(Photo: Harold Hinson Photography)

Start: 13th
Finish: 17th

Zane Smith drove the Canadamark/BN3TH Chevrolet Camaro to a 17th-place finish in Saturday’s Camping World 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Chicagoland Speedway. Smith and the team did a stellar job positioning themselves among the front runners, even leading three laps under caution, until a pit road penalty hampered the team’s efforts and relegated them to the finish.

Smith fired off in 13th when the green flag waved, and early in the race he moved up to 11th, eyeing a position among the competitors in the top 10. As the laps clicked off in the opening stint and Smith was able to assess the handling condition of the No. 8, he reported it was “tight all around [and] needed more rotation.” With a good pace, the team came home 16th in Stage One.

After coming to pit road for a scheduled stop under the stage-ending caution, Smith took the Stage Two restart in 19th and quickly settled in. He climbed to 15th before a caution slowed the field on lap 78.  The Canadamark/BN3TH team then took its second opportunity to come to pit road for fresh tires and another chassis adjustment, restarting in 13th. With the green flag in the air, Smith fired off like a rocket. He cut his way through four-wide traffic to gain nine positions and surfaced in fourth. He held on to sixth and led the JRM charge for the conclusion of Stage Two.

Under caution, the team opted to come back to pit road in an attempt to make further adjustments on the No. 8’s handling, positioning themselves in ninth for the final stage restart. Once back up to speed, Smith went to work and jumped to fifth before a caution on lap 111 slowed the field. In an effort to gain paramount track position, crew chief Taylor Moyer made a strategic call for track position and elected not to pit. This propelled Smith to the lead for the restart. Though the track position proved critical, Smith gave way to cars on fresher tires and drifted to ninth.

The benefit of a caution that would set the field back on the same strategy never came and Smith came to pit road under green-flag conditions with 48 laps to go. During his exit off pit road NASCAR deemed Smith was speeding and he was forced back into the pits to serve a pass-through penalty. This set the team back to 17th, two laps down. The misfortune proved too much to overcome in the limited number of laps remaining, although the Canadamark/BN3TH team did manage to earn one of its laps back in the closing stages.

Cole Custer won the race and was followed to the line by Joey Logano, Michael Annett, Brandon Jones and Austin Cindric.

Zane Smith, driver No. 8 Canadamark/BN3TH Chevrolet team

“It was not the day we were hoping for today. At times it was a struggle out there. We didn’t have the car we had yesterday but I think we definitely went the right way on adjustments as it handled better as the team worked on it. But it was sweet to put tires on that thing and drive up to fourth the way we did. And I love that call to get track position, it’s so critical at these types of track. Unfortunately, we kind of screwed ourselves speeding at the end of pit road. There was no time to rebound from that.

“I want to give a big thanks to Canadamark and BN3TH. Their support meant a lot to us today and I can’t wait to be in the car back at Iowa.”