Zane Smith was on the verge of a top-five finish Saturday at Dover International Speedway until a late-race caution during a series of green flag pit stops derailed things for the No. 8 PatientPop team. Smith eventually rallied to finish ninth, his sixth top-10 finish in nine starts for JRM in the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series season.
Smith fired off from the 10th position, moving up three positions on the first lap of the race before an early caution slowed things. The native of Huntington Beach, Calif. restarted sixth and quickly moved up into the top five by lap 15. As the first 45-lap stage played out, Smith reported his Chevrolet was too free firing off but was overall neutral for the most of the stage, going on to finish the first stanza in fourth.
Crew chief Taylor Moyer would call Smith to pit road during the caution at the end of the first stage for four tires and fuel and to make an adjustment to help with the handling of his car to combat a loose condition on landing in the corners.
Smith started Stage Two from fifth and would stay within sight of the leaders for much of the next 45-lap run, eventually finishing the second stage in sixth. Smith reported his car had gone to the tight side during the run, but was overall better than earlier in the race. A stop for four more tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment was the call during the caution following the conclusion of the stage.
Going from sixth to start the final stage, Smith quickly moved up into the top five on the restart where he would be a fixture during the course of the final 110-lap run to the checkers. Smith remained quiet on the radio before reporting his car was once again tight as the race reached the race’s three-quarter mark. As the race neared its conclusion, Moyer and the No. 8 team began working on a plan for the final scheduled stop of the day, calling Smith to pit road with 35 laps to go for four tires and fuel as the field continued to circulate under the green flag.
Smith was poised to regain his place in the top five as he patiently waited for a handful of cars to make their way to pit road who were stretching fuel further than most. The gamble for those cars paid off and stalled Smith’s rise back towards the top of the leaderboard as a car spun coming to pit road on Lap 179, trapping Smith two laps down.
Restarting one lap down in sixth with 15 laps to go, Smith battled teammate Noah Gragson for the free pass hoping for another caution to wave. The yellow did come out with 12 laps to go but Smith wasn’t in position to get back on the lead lap. He would restart eighth on Lap 193, losing one spot on the restart, eventually taking the checkered flag in ninth.
Cole Custer won the race with JRM teammate Justin Allgaier finishing second. Austin Cindric, Justin Haley and Chase Briscoe rounded out the top-five finishers.
Zane Smith, driver No. 8 PatientPop Chevrolet team
“We ended up ninth after running in the top five all day. This was definitely the best car I’ve had all year. Pit strategy kind of bit us there at the end a little bit. This place is a ton of fun to come to and I really enjoyed the two races here this year. I’ve got to thank PatientPop and JR Motorsports and this whole No. 8 team for everything. It’s awesome working with them.”