Former Peachtree City resident to make first Cup start


Lilly Carter

Smithley, who drove the #15 Cellaris Chevrolet for JD Motorsports to a 25th place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway earlier this season, will make his first Cup series start this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. He will drive the #99 Chevy Camaro for StarCom racing on Sunday.

Caylee Cicero, Features Editor

This has been a NASCAR season filled with firsts for former Peachtree City resident Garrett Smithley. This weekend Smithley will make his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at Michigan International Speedway.

“Today’s NASCAR is so much about the business and sponsorship, so we had a sponsor that showed interest in Michigan,” Smithley said. “I had a sponsor on my Xfinity car already which is so we looked to see if we could run Cup, and fortunately we found a team that wanted to do it.”

[W]hat I want out of my first Cup start is to learn as much as I can, run all the laps, and gain the respect of the drivers.”

— Garrett Smithley

In addition to running his #0 Chevy Camaro for JD Motorsports on Saturday, Smithley will pilot StarCom Racing’s #99 Chevy Camaro in Sunday’s race at Michigan. StarCom Racing team manager Derrike Cope also worked with Smithley for his ARCA and Xfinity Series debuts.

“It took me 10 and a half years from my first Bandolero races to make it to the Cup series, and there were years at a time where I hardly raced anything, so you don’t know how things will work out,” Smithley said.

Smithley has already scored two top-ten finishes in the Xfinity Series this season including a fifth place finish in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway. He currently ranks 19th in Xfinity driver standings.

Last season Smithley finished 29th at Michigan International Speedway in the Xfinity Series. His best finish at Michigan came in 2015 in the Camping World Truck Series where he placed 14th. Smithley has an average finish of 20th throughout his racing career at Michigan International Speedway.

“StarCom Racing is a small team who is growing, but what I want out of my first Cup start is to learn as much as I can, run all the laps, and gain the respect of the drivers,” Smithley said. “If I can do that, I will be thoroughly satisfied.”

Smithley spent the later part of his childhood growing up in Peachtree City. His success so far in NASCAR proves that with dedication even small-town kids can make their seemly impossible dreams come true.

“I would tell young racers who are starting small not to give up,” Smithley said. “Hard work and passion is more important than talent, so just be patient and don’t give up.”

This Saturday, Smithley will make his usual Xfinity Series start at Michigan International Speedway in the LTI Printing 250 at 1:30 p.m. on FOX. Fans can then watch Smithley’s MENCS debut in the Firekeepers Casino 400 on Sunday at 2 p.m. on FOX.