Zane Smith, driver of the No. 38 Boot Barn Ford F-150 for Front Row Motorsports, won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular season championship last weekend.  He opens Friday‘s playoff opener as the top seed and spoke about his expectations as part of media day in Charlotte.

ZANE SMITH, No. 38 Boot Barn Ford F-150 — HAVE YOU NOTICED A BOOST OF CONFIDENCE AT FRONT ROW WITH HOW WELL THE SEASON HAS GONE FOR YOU AND MICHAEL MCDOWELL?  “There hasn‘t been much different going on that I could tell.  I feel like with the consistency of our truck team has just shown in the regular season with the past four weeks, besides Pocono, our worst finish was third and I feel like that is what got us in the position going to Pocono with our points buffer.  Front Row has been doing awesome lately and so it‘s cool to see.  I feel like just with that comes everyone in the shop being happier.  It‘s a happy time right now.”

DO YOU EXPECT ANY SIMILARITIES TO HOW IRP WILL DRIVE FROM THE ARCA CAR TO THE TRUCK?  “I think it‘ll be similar, but a lot of the time when we think that the truck is just so much different than what you expect, so I don‘t know.  We‘re just gonna kind of go into it like another short track and we should be pretty good.  I feel like Martinsville this year we were pretty solid.  We missed a little bit on a few little things, so hopefully have those worked out and have a solid start to the playoffs.”

HOW DO YOU LOOK AT THE PLAYOFFS BECAUSE IT‘S KIND OF A CRAPSHOOT WITH WINNER TAKE ALL AT PHOENIX.  DO YOU PUT A LOT OF STOCK IN WINNING THE TITLE?  “I put a lot of stock in winning the championship.  To start out the year I had the regular season championship circled just because I feel like that is what kind of shows how one half of your year went, so I am happy we got that but in between there I feel like race wins are what people notice a ton and then to what you said I feel like just getting to Phoenix is a championship in its own.  When that day comes it‘s whoever is best that day, so if you could lock yourself in earlier than later, you get to put more attention on Phoenix and that goes a long way.”

YOU HAVE THE BIGGEST POINTS LEAD TO GET TO PHOENIX, SO ARE YOU PLANNING TO BE MORE CONSERVATIVE OR BY TAKING THE SAME APPROACH YOU DID DURING THE SEASON?  “I think you kind of have to go about it as going for wins.  That points buffer will run out quickly.  It doesn‘t take much to fill up those spots, so I think we‘re just gonna do what we‘ve been doing for the rest of the year.  It‘s worked out for us and we‘ve shown a lot of consistency and I think that‘s what you need to do in the playoffs to get to Phoenix.”

WHAT EXPECTATIONS DO YOU HAVE FOR IRP?  “I‘m excited for it.  I feel like watching those races back you see all these guys that have been in the sport for a long time.  Indy brings such a cool fan base, so to be going back there I‘m a fan of the short tracks, so I‘m excited about it and ready to get the playoffs started.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS FOR THE PLAYOFFS?  “The playoffs are its own animal, so it just amplifies everything.  We just need to have some smooth rounds and hopefully end up in Phoenix to contend for a championship.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE SHORT TRACKS IN THE PLAYOFFS AND WHICH ONES CAN YOU WIN?  “I hope all of them.  I feel like IRP is an oddball a little bit, but we proved last year that if we‘re in a must-win we can pull that off, but Richmond I feel like that‘s one that I have circled.  I love Richmond and then a Richmond night race just makes it that much cooler.  I‘m ready to get those going.  Bristol is always pretty fun and then there‘s typically a late-race caution and it gets pretty crazy.  I‘m excited for all of them and hopefully we can win all of them.”

WHICH TRACKS DO YOU LIKE BEST IN THE PLAYOFFS?  “I would say it‘s hard for us not to circle Kansas just with how our first Kansas went.  I felt like we kind of dominated that race, so if we could do half of that again, I‘d be super happy because there‘s way more on the line this time.  That‘s obviously the goal.  I love going to Kansas regardless, so I‘m excited for it.”

HOW DID RUNNING THE CUP RACE AT GATEWAY CHANGE YOUR APPROACH TO TRUCKS?  “That‘s a good question.  I feel like just that one Cup race I ran I feel like I learned so much.  It‘s pretty crazy just the difference from the Cup level to anything.  I feel like everyone is good and everyone is so much closer.  I‘m happy I got to make that Cup start.  I‘m happy how it went, but hopefully there are more in the future.  Currently, I‘m obviously focused on this Truck Series title, so it‘s just one thing at a time.”

CAN YOU AFFORD TO BE AGGRESSIVE AT IRP AND RICHMOND OR DO YOU JUST RACE FOR POINTS AND WINS?  “I mean, it depends on how your day is going.  I feel like if you‘re off a little bit and haven‘t captured stage points, then, yeah, I feel like I kind of have the room to be aggressive and go race for a race win, but I don‘t know.  It all depends how your race is going, really.  If you‘ve had a solid points day with maybe a stage win and good points, you need to be smart and be thinking about long term, so that‘s where my head is at.”

— Ford Performance —

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *