NASCAR set for rare appearance not seen in 13 years

Zane Smith, Spire Motorsports, NASCAR Cup Series (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Zane Smith, Spire Motorsports, NASCAR Cup Series (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

Zane Smith is set to drive the No. 71 Chevrolet during the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season, a number not seen in the Cup Series since 2011.

2022 NASCAR Truck Series champion Zane Smith signed a multi-year contract with Trackhouse Racing Team before the 2023 Cup Series season concluded, but with the Justin Marks and Pitbull-owned team not having any seats open for 2024, he was loaned out to Spire Motorsports.

Spire Motorsports purchased a third charter from Live Fast Motorsports, which will no longer compete full-time in the 2024 season, to field an entry for Smith alongside their entries for Corey LaJoie and rookie Carson Hocevar.

LaJoie is set to return for a fourth season behind the wheel of the No. 7 Chevrolet while Hocevar is set to replace Ty Dillon behind the wheel of the No. 77 Chevrolet. Until recently, a number for Smith’s entry had not been confirmed.

The car number for Zane Smith’s Spire Motorsports Chevrolet for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season has since been confirmed as No. 71.

There has not been a Cup Series race contested with a No. 71 car since the 2011 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, when Mike Bliss piloted the No. 71 Ford for TRG Motorsports. A total of 432 races have been contested since then.

This streak almost came to an end in 2019, when Tommy Baldwin Racing fielded the No. 71 Chevrolet for Ryan Truex at Daytona International Speedway. However, this was not one of the 36 chartered entries, meaning that Truex either had to qualify for the Daytona 500 on speed or by racing his way in via the Duel qualifying races.

He could not do either, and the No. 71 hasn’t been in the garage since.

With the No. 71 Chevrolet now being a chartered entry following the $40 million transaction between Spire Motorsports and Live Fast Motorsports, the car is locked into all 36 points races on the 2024 Cup Series schedule.

Next. All-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. dark

In the history of car No. 71, Bobby Isaac is the most successful driver, recording 35 of its 44 wins in 199 starts. The other race winners include Dave Marcis (five wins in 589 starts), Buddy Baker (three wins in 37 starts), and Fireball Roberts (one win in one start).

There’s a lot to look forward to about next year’s NASCAR Cup Series Season, but you won’t have to wait to start winning at BetMGM! Just sign up and place your first bet of $10 or more on anything. You’ll instantly win $200 in bonus bets. Sign up with BetMGM today!