Zane Smith, the reigning NASCAR Truck Series champion, could miss out on his Daytona 500 debut in 2023. Despite being part of the Front Row Motorsports team, which has entered three cars for the 200-lap race at the Daytona International Speedway, Smith’s No. 36 Ford is a non-chartered entry and is therefore not locked into the season-opening Cup Series race.
With 36 chartered entries already confirmed for the race, including Todd Gilliland’s No. 38 Ford from Front Row Motorsports, the remaining six spots will be contested by non-chartered entries, including Smith’s No. 36 Ford.
The field for the Daytona 500 is capped at 40 cars, which means that only four non-chartered cars will qualify for the race. The other two spots will be determined by the results of the Bluegreen Vacations Duels or via the single-car qualifying session.
Despite Front Row Motorsports entering three cars for the Daytona 500, Smith is set to share the No. 38 Ford with Gilliland throughout the Cup Series season. This could mean that Smith might not have many chances to race in the Cup Series this season.
Smith has only one Cup Series race to his name, having replaced Chris Buescher behind the wheel of the No. 17 Ford at RFK Racing at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway when Buescher was sidelined due to COVID-19 protocols.
With his Daytona 500 debut in doubt, Smith and his team will be hoping for a positive outcome in the qualifying session or Bluegreen Vacations Duels to secure a spot in the Great American Race. NASCAR fans will be watching closely to see whether Smith can make it to the Daytona 500 starting grid and compete against some of the best drivers in the world.