By: Ashley McCubbin
With three victories this season, Sammy Smith currently holds a 19-point advantage over Mason Diaz in the ARCA Menards East Series standings.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver recently spoke about his season, and thoughts going into the Milwaukee Mile with NEWS FROM THE PITS.
ASHLEY MCCUBBIN: What are your thoughts on how this season has played out?
SAMMY SMITH: It’s been really good. We have three wins, a lot of top-fives, and at Iowa, we were running pretty good and blew a tire and didn’t get a good finish. Going into Milwaukee, I think we have a good points lead and hopefully we can go compete for the top spot.
ASHLEY: What’s the biggest thing that you feel you’ve learned this season about the cars that’s been beneficial for you?
SAMMY: Just the different cars – they are heavier and have more horsepower than what I’m used to. Just learning really, going to bigger tracks. The first couple tracks started off with short tracks, but these last few have been bigger tracks. It’s just been tough to learn the air and just the learning curve for me. I feel I’m getting better and hopefully these last couple, I can take what I’ve learned and apply it.
ASHLEY: You mentioned the wins that you have under your belt. What’s been your favourite?
SAMMY: I say probably Nashville. We went a lap down because we had a penalty on the restart, and unlapped ourselves to come back through the field to lead the most laps for the victory. That one stood out the most for me because we fought to the end, never gave up, and won. Also, Southern National is another good one. We weren’t very good and we had good changes through the breaks to get the victory.
ASHLEY: What do you feel you need to do and improve upon as a driver?
SAMMY: Probably just adapt to the bigger tracks. I felt I’ve done a decent job as every time we show, I’m top-three in practice. But I feel to be closer to Ty (Gibbs) and Corey (Heim), I need to adapt better and try to pick up on it a little quicker.
ASHLEY: What are your thoughts going into the next event, which is Milwaukee?
SAMMY: I feel really good about it. I ran there in the Super Late Model in June so I feel I have a good amount of track time; it’s just about getting the car where I want it. I don’t think ARCA cars have been there for awhile, so just got to focus on what we need to do to get a good balance underneath me and hopefully we can go battle Corey and Ty for the win.
ASHLEY: You’re currently leading the standings. What would it mean to you if you could lock up the championship?
SAMMY: It’d mean a lot. Obviously, it means a lot to win a points championship. But I think the biggest thing is learning these big tracks and hopefully apply it to next year.
ASHLEY: You mentioned running the Super Late Models. What were you able to learn that you can now apply over to the ARCA East Series?
SAMMY: I think a lot, just racing in general in the Super Late Models is tough. It’s a lot of stiff competition and a lot of tracks that we go to with the Super Late Model, ARCA goes to as well. That helps a lot but it’s just the racing, competition-wise, it’s just super stiff in the super late model.
ASHLEY: How did you get started in racing?
SAMMY: My dad got me into it when I was younger. He grew up around racing and I started in go-karts when I was about eight, and just kept going moving up the ranks.
ASHLEY: Now that you’ve had the success this year, where do you see your career going from here?
SAMMY: Hopefully being the Cup Series Champion one day. Anything I do in racing, I want to be competitive and winning in everything so hopefully we can keep doing that.
ASHLEY: Who do you consider your racing hero?
SAMMY: Probably Kyle Busch or Jimmie Johnson.
ASHLEY: Lastly, what would your advice be to someone getting started in racing based on your experience?
SAMMY: Just got to work hard. It’s tough. You got to keep working hard, never give up, and fight till the end. if you have all three of those things, you’ll definitely make it.