Zane Smith Welcomes First On-Track Action at “The Magic Mile”

Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) driver Zane Smith knows all about New Hampshire Motor Speedway(NHMS).

The newly minted 25-year-old (his birthday was Sunday) from Huntington Beach, Calif. Has visited “The Magic Mile” several times – enough to realize how knowledgeable the local motorsports fans are, how treacherous the track can be and how to get the best lobster rolls in New England.

What he’ll experience for the first time on Sunday, June 23, however, is actually competing behind the wheel on the 1.058-mile asphalt oval when he makes his NHMS driving debut in the USA TODAY 301 NCS race.

“This one I’ve had circled on the calendar, along with the Chicago Street Course, because I’ve never been there,” Smith said earlier this month. “It’s crazy to make your debut at a track you’ve never been to [in the Cup Series]. I’ve always wanted to race at New Hampshire but never had the opportunity. Timing and other opportunities – it just never aligned.”

While Smith made his NCS debut in 2022 at Gateway, 2024 marks his first full-time season. Driving the No. 71 Chevrolet for Spire Motorsports, Smith is challenging for the NCS Rookie of the Year crown along with Josh Berry (Stewart-Haas Racing), Kaz Grala (Rick Ware Racing) and Spire Motorsports teammate Carson Hocevar. Through Sonoma, Smith sits third in the rookie standings with a season-high finish of 13th in the Daytona 500 in February.

Smith, the 2022 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series champion, plans on relying on the wisdom of a few racing friends for tips on how to best tackle “The Magic Mile” before he hits the track for practice, qualifying and the race.

“I’ll definitely reach out to some people just to get some insight,” Smith said. “I know it suits certain driving styles. One that stands out to me is [2021 New Hampshire champion] Aric Almirola. I have a good relationship with him, and New Hampshire has been a great track for him.

“It’s a beautiful racetrack. The fans are awesome. It looks like a really fun racetrack. I’m excited to see how I stack up. The first time I visited New Hampshire, I actually got to hold [Loudon] the lobster. It’s definitely crazy and one of the coolest trophies. It would be awesome to claim him.”

If anyone knows the challenge that Smith faces, it’s Martin Truex Jr., who earned his first New Hampshire NCS victory last season in his 30th start at the track.

“That’s a tough place to go to without having experience,” Truex said. “Be careful getting into the corners – it’s very sketchy. Especially in turn three, with the bumps the way they are, you can lock the brakes up really easy and get in trouble. Take it easy getting into the corner, and focus on getting off the corner.”

No matter his finish, Smith knows he will have some support from the fervent New England fans that welcome all of the racers throughout NASCAR weekend at NHMS.

“In New Hampshire, these are real race fans,” Smith said. “They know what they are watching. They know what strategy adjustments do to a race car. It’s what I can ‘OG’ race fans. Hopefully I’ll see some Zane Smith shirts walking around. Though, when it gets hot, a lot of people are missing their shirts.

“I’m excited to get down there and hopefully visit the Fan Zone and see some people.”

For a NASCAR weekend schedule, visit


Log on to for tickets and more information on the weekend’s lineup of action-packed racing. Tickets for SIG SAUER Academy Dirt Duels start at just $25 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under. Tickets for Doubleheader Saturday, featuring the SciAps 200 NXS race and the Mohegan Sun 100 NWMT race, start at just $49 for adults while kids 12 and under are free. Sunday’s USA TODAY 301 NCS race tickets start at just $64 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under. Further details can be found on the NHMS website or by calling 833-4LOUDON.


Spread the love