On an updated entry list and qualifying order sheet from NASCAR on Wednesday, Zane Smith was listed as the driver of the No. 51 Rick Ware Racing entry for this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series NOCO 400 at Martinsville Speedway.
Following the release of the updated entry list, Rick Ware Racing confirmed that Smith will pilot the No. 51 Ford Mustang this weekend in a statement that the team shared on social media.
In the statement, the team said, “Zane Smith will drive the No. 51 Ford at Martinsville Speedway this weekend for Rick Ware Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series. Smith, the 2022 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion, will be making his fourth career NCS start.”
The 23-year-old driver, who is in the midst of a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship defense, will get some added experience in the NASCAR Cup Series ranks.
Smith, a native of Huntington Beach, California, has made three NASCAR Cup Series starts in his career with a best finish of 13th coming in the 2023 season-opening Daytona 500.
The racer finished 17th in his series debut last season at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway filling in for Chris Buescher, who was out due to testing positive for COVID-19.
Back in February, Front Row Motorsports announced a planned schedule of six NASCAR Cup Series races for Smith, including five races in the team’s chartered No. 38 entry. Smith is a nine-time race winner in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and he has scored six victories since moving to Front Row Motorsports in the series for the 2022 season.
The No. 51 car was piloted by Matt Crafton at Bristol Motor Speedway last weekend, and Crafton was a last-minute substitution for the team’s primary driver Cody Ware, who the team announced was sitting out Bristol due to a “personal matter.”
On Monday, April 10th, Ware was arrested by the Iredell Sheriff’s Department and charged with felony assault by strangulation and misdemeanor assault on a female. Following the arrest, Ware was indefinitely suspended by NASCAR.