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Rethinking Zane Smith’s NASCAR Future: Where Could Trackhouse Loan Him To?

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On Monday, Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports did a rundown of the Cup Series seats yet to be announced for 2024, and he specifically name-dropped Zane Smith. Pockrass mentioned that Smith specifically had discussions with Trackhouse for a 2024 seat, but with no seat available in 2024, Trackhouse would have to “lease” Smith out to another team for 2024.

First off, what would have to happen for this to work? Secondly, If this were to happen, however unlikely, then where could Trackhouse loan him to?

How Would This Actually Work?

The idea of leasing or loaning drivers is not an unprecedented thing in NASCAR. A couple of prominent NASCAR drivers have been leased out to other teams before moving up to the main team later in their careers.

Ryan Blaney spent the start of his career with The Wood Brothers in the #21 before moving up to Team Penske with the #12 car in 2018. Christopher Bell spent the 2020 season with Leavine Family Racing before making the move to Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2021 season where he still is to this day.

Now, the only reason Trackhouse would do this would be if they have a plan for Smith to get into their building at some point. Currently, they have only two charters, and they have SVG reportedly in their ecosystem on a developmental deal. Trackhouse would have to make some major moves for this to actually happen, but if anyone could make it happen, it’s Justin Marks. Now, if this were to happen, where could Smith go?

Lease Option 1: Kaulig Racing (Cup/Xfinity)

One way or another, Kaulig Racing will have a seat to fill in 2024, and they have teased a “surprise” for how they choose to fill it. If someone like Daniel Hemric or Chandler Smith takes over the #31 seat in 2024, then Smith could slot into the Xfinity Series seat left open for 2024. However, if A.J. Allmendinger moves back down to Xfinity, that opens up a Cup Series seat for Smith.

Now, why would Kaulig be willing to accept this? Kaulig is not a key Chevrolet partner team, so, they could maybe use a technical alliance with another Chevrolet race team. Trackhouse would be an interesting team to partner with as they have won races and a relationship already exists with drivers like Ross Chastain having driven for both teams.

Lease Option 2: Live Fast Motorsports (Cup)

Live Fast Motorsports has yet to announce its plans for the 2024 season, but it sits in an unenviable position. They are 36th in owners points, which is last amongst chartered race teams, and if that keeps up, that means two years in a row in the bottom three in owners points. If they finish 34th or worse in 2024, then NASCAR can revoke their charter.

They could use a boost, and partnering with an organization like Trackhouse could be a boost. Live Fast could receive some much-needed technical support, and a pretty good driver in Zane Smith. For Trackhouse, they could potentially buy the charter from Live Fast if things go south, or they could keep the partnership going if things improve.

Lease Option 3: Jr Motorsports (Xfinity)

Jr Motorsports is one of the top Xfinity Series Chevrolet race teams, and they need a driver for 2024. Dale Earnhardt Jr. loves to give drivers a chance to race in good equipment, and Smith could be the next guy to do that. If Trackhouse is willing to lease Smith to Jr Motorsports, then would they be willing to front some funding as well?

The sponsorship funding is the major thing to consider with the JRM 8 car, and Trackhouse could take care of some of that. However, the question with this is how much can and should Smith bring when it comes to sponsorship for this to work?

Lease Option 4: Jordan Anderson Racing (Xfinity)

This would be the wildest of all wild cards, but, it is a Chevrolet Xfinity Series team with no officially announced plans for next year. It is also a team that has made a Playoff appearance with Jeb Burton winning at Talladega earlier this season. With all of that in mind, could Trackhouse partner with a team like Jordan Anderson?

It may not be the flashiest move, but this is a team that has no competitive interest in the Cup Series. As a result, Trackhouse has no fear of giving Smith to another Cup Series race team, and they can let him develop in the Xfinity Series.

Could this be the plan for Zane Smith in the future? It certainly is unorthodox, but, it could be an interesting opportunity for him.

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