12 Questions with Garrett Smithley (2018)

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Garrett Smithley of JD Motorsports. This interview was recorded as a podcast, but is also transcribed for those who prefer to read.

1. How often do you have dreams about racing?

I dream a lot in general. I’m actually fascinated with dreams.

How so?

I feel like it’s a gateway into a different realm. I don’t know — we’re getting deep here. But I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos (about dreams) and I think it’s cool. I wish I could go back and rewatch my dreams.

As for racing (dreams), I’d say 40 percent of the time. Before I was racing full time, I dreamed about it all the time. Now that I race full time, I don’t dream about it quite as much.

I have a recurring nightmare I’m not ready. I don’t have my helmet, I don’t have my stuff. I hate those dreams.

Do you think dreams mean something? Like they have messages?

I think sometimes. You can use them in your life. Different dreams have meaning, and I’ve looked some of those up — like when you dream you’re falling. I think they mean something.

2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize?

Probably. A lot of drivers say it doesn’t matter if somebody apologizes. It actually happened a few races ago — somebody got into me and ended up wrecking us. He came over and apologized.

I think deep down you say, “Oh, it doesn’t matter,” but it does matter. Because this is such a mental sport. If you’re racing that guy, you’re going to say, “Well, he apologized, so…eh.”

3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?

Probably that I belong. I don’t come from a racing background and I started late — when I was 15. I’ve always been told I wasn’t going to make it to this level. So when people say, “Man, you’re doing a good job. You belong here. You belong in a race car,” I think that’s a really good compliment.

4. NASCAR comes to you and says they’re bringing a celebrity to the track and they want you to host them. Who is a celebrity you’d be excited to host?

Can I have two answers for this? Any of the sharks from Shark Tank or Camila Cabello, because I have a crush on her.

Did you like Fifth Harmony before she left?

I didn’t know they were a thing, and then Camila Cabello did her own thing and I went back and listened. I was like, “Oh, this is Fifth Harmony. I get it. I understand.”

I used to like Ariana Grande, but now she’s like married to Pete Davidson or whatever.

That killed it for you?

Yeah. Like I don’t have a chance. They’re in love.

Well, if you’d been on Saturday Night Live, you could have had a shot.

I’m not funny like that. (Laughs)

5. In an effort to show this is a health conscious sport, NASCAR decides to offer the No. 1 pit stall for an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for one month. Would you do it?

No. If it was like for a month, maybe. I could eat some Chicken Alfredo. Wait, can I eat Alfredo?

Nope. That’s creamy sauce.

Oh my gosh. No. Absolutely not. Not even for a month. Sorry.

6. It’s time for the Random Race Challenge. I’ve picked a random race from your career and you have to tell me where you finished. This is the 2016 Michigan Xfinity race. Do you happen to remember that one at all?

I was battling with Ryan Preece. I think we beat him by one spot. Uh…21st?

Nope. This was P17.

Seventeeth? Whoa! I need to give myself more credit!

You finished right behind Ross Chastain (his teammate) and ahead of Brendan Gaughan.

Brendan had some type of issue. I just didn’t think we finished that well. Seventeenth! Wow, sweet!

7. Who is the best rapper alive?

Eminem. I’m not a huge rap fan, but yeah. Rap god.

Can I give a nod to Lil Dicky though? Because I really like Lil Dicky. I think he’s hilarious. He’s not the best, but he’s actually gotten me back into rap.

The music video for his song with Chris Brown is hilarious.

Oh yeah. “Freaky Friday.” All his stuff — “Save Dat Money,” “Pillow Talking.” “Save Dat Money” is my favorite.

I know he’s been around for a little while, but I just recently discovered him.

8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?

(Laughs) How am I supposed to answer this? Well, I guess I could have another two-part answer, right?

Myself, I would want to punch somebody I could fight. Tyler Reddick is pretty short, so I could fight him.

You’d have a chance?

I feel like I’d have a chance with Reddick. I like Tyler, but I feel like we could fight. It’d be a good fight. I’m not a fighter though.

But if we’re looking at past situations, with people wanting to punch somebody, probably Brad (Keselowski), right?

It seems like he comes up a lot.

I like Brad. I wouldn’t punch Brad — he’s never made me mad. But if you look at stats-wise who has the most punchable face in NASCAR — like a Racing Reference for punches — that’d be it, right?

9. NASCAR enlists three famous Americans to be involved with your team for one race as part of a publicity push: Taylor Swift, LeBron James and Tom Hanks. Choose one to be your crew chief, one to be your spotter and one to be your motorhome driver.

Well, Taylor is going to be the motorhome driver. So, yeah. She’s pretty cool. She can sing me songs when I have a bad race and come back to the motorhome.

LeBron is a champion, so I feel like he’d be crew chief. Because he knows how to get it done.

And then Tom Hanks — if I could have Woody (from Toy Story) spotting for me, that would be awesome. Woody or Captain Phillips or Forrest Gump. I could be like, “This car SUCKS, LeBron! What are you doing?” And Tom could just be like, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

I feel like we could make a whole race Radioactive with Tom Hanks up there. Let’s do it.

10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?

This is a problem in NASCAR. I want every track to listen to your podcast. We need drivers’ bathrooms — like three or four or five of them right where our cars are.

A lot of people don’t like port-o-potties. I like port-o-potties because they’re private, you can get away, meditate. I think Watkins Glen is one of the tough ones. Some tracks are good — you’ve got to scout them out — because right off the truck, I’m going to the bathroom. I’ve never peed in my seat. Seriously, if there aren’t port-o-potties, you have to make sure you know where you’re going before driver intros.

11. NASCAR decides they miss the highlight reel value brought by Carl Edwards’ backflips and want a replacement. How much money would they have to offer for you to backflip off your car following your next win?

They’d have to give me lessons. I can backflip off the boat into the water.

Do you make it?

I mean, yeah. So last year, Harrison Rhodes was racing with us. He has a boat out on Badin Lake. We did a lake day with me, him and Ross — team bonding. And he’s got this two-level dock, and he said, “Hey, do a gainer.” That’s where you run to the end of the dock and do backflip. So I look over the edge — I had some “courage” in my bloodstream at that point — and said, “I’m just going to do it. Screw it.” So I start running and get to the end of the dock. But instead of keeping running, I stop and then do the flip — and I back-flopped. I was so sore — my back was red for days. It was awful.

So NASCAR would have to make sure I went and did lessons, paid for the lessons and if I get hurt, pay for the medical bills. I’m good with that.

12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week’s was with William Byron. His question for you was: Do you do iRacing, and how much does it help or hurt you?

I still do it. I don’t do it nearly as much as I used to. In the offseason, I’ll do it quite a bit because I’ll go crazy when I’m not in a race car.

It helps, especially for road courses — ahead of Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio and Road America, I’ll be on there doing a whole lot of it. It doesn’t hurt. Even going to an oval, you can’t get that seat-of-your-pants feel, but you get that visual. (It helps with) coming to pit road, exiting pit road, the bumps are mapped. I don’t think iRacing has ever hurt me inside the race car.

But I will tell a funny story really quick. I ran my first Truck race in 2015 at Atlanta with Mittler Brothers. The way I have my wheel mapped (in the game), I have paddle shifters to look left or right. I was going down the backstretch (in real life), and I looked right, but I went to hit my paddle to look right. (Laughs) Because to that point, I had only ever done NASCAR on iRacing. I looked, but I instinctively went to hit a paddle. I’m like, “I’m an idiot! Why did I just do that?”

I hope people don’t make fun of me for that.

Do you have a question I might be able to ask for the next interview? It will be with a sprint car driver.

What was the first time they ever got into a 410 sprint car and how long did it take them to get up to speed?

Brad Sweet answered Smithley’s question in his 12 Questions interview, which you can read here.

Previous 12 Questions interviews with Garrett Smithley:

March 8, 2017

12 Questions with Ross Chastain (2018)

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Ross Chastain, who races in both the Cup Series (driving the No. 15 car for Premium Motorsports) and the Xfinity Series (driving the No. 4 car for JD Motorsports).

1. How often do you have dreams about racing?

Not very often. I guess maybe once a week, maybe two times.

What happens in them?

Well most of my dreams are about farming, to be honest. And watermelons. The racing stuff is usually bad.They’re all nightmares — it’s losing races, reliving old races that I’ve lost. I don’t think I’ve ever dreamed about a race I’ve won.

2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize?

Yeah. I usually try to no matter what. They usually don’t like to hear it, and I’m the same way when I’m on the other side, so I think you have to just so you know in your mind that you did.

Usually, if it’s a complete freak deal and an accident, it’s OK. They might be mad at the moment, but as soon as they see the replay, they’re OK. But when you’ve been racing with the same guys for 20 races in a row, especially in Xfinity and you’re racing against the same guys week in and week out, usually it builds up to running into each other. And then you just don’t care on both sides.

What’s your method of apologizing?

I’ve done everything. I’ve called and (been) told to “lose their effing number.”

Somebody said that to you? “Lose my effing number?”

Yep. “Don’t ever call me again.” OK. Sorry I bumped you on that restart.

I’ve had a lot of issues obviously, so I’ve tried to work on all of that. I bring a lot of my friends with me, so I don’t necessarily go hang out with all the little cliques. They’re like high school groupies. It’s crazy. I mean, I’m sure you see it.

But yeah, I do try to apologize. I’ve never crashed anybody on purpose — I’ve bumped into them, I’ve pushed them out of the way, but never crashed anybody on purpose. I’ve seen guys do it; that’s pretty bold. So I don’t think I would ever do that.

3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?

“Man, that was a good watermelon.” (Chastain used to be a watermelon farmer before racing.) No, I guess for racing…it’s “underrated” that might be the word. A lot of people will say, “You did such a great job last week.” But over the big picture, (it’s when) somebody just says, “You’re doing a lot with a little,” which I get that a lot. I can’t wait for the day we can say as this group that you’re doing the right amount with what you have because you have a lot now and you’re doing a lot. I don’t always want to be the little guy. But that’s what I get a lot, so I guess that’s good.

4. NASCAR comes to you and says they’re bringing a celebrity to the track and they want you to host them. Who is a celebrity you’d be excited to host?

I like Brock Osweiler.

Really? Brock Osweiler? That’s kind of random.

Yeah. I don’t know. I just follow him online and saw what he did with the Broncos there and took them a long ways and I feel like they brought Peyton (Manning) back for the playoffs and then they won the Super Bowl. Right, that year? But I was a big fan of how he was able to get them there while Peyton wasn’t in. I don’t know. I just follow him online. If I had to pick somebody that would be it.

5. In an effort to show this is a health conscious sport, NASCAR decides to offer the No. 1 pit stall for an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for one month. Would you do it?

I mean, I would. I eat anything, so I could eat salads if I had to. I don’t think it’s a big deal. There’s ways around it. It wouldn’t be ideal. We have Red Limousin cows back home that I started with when I was little and we’ve got it up to about a hundred head and more of a hobby that’s turned into a job. But yeah, I can do that, I guess.

But No. 1 pit selection isn’t that great. There’s a lot of great pit stalls every week. I’ll do it. I mean, plus for the publicity of it. All the beef farmers wouldn’t be happy with me, but…

6. It’s time for the Random Race Challenge. I’ve picked a random race from your career and you have to tell me where you finished. This is the 2016 fall Dover Xfinity race. Do you happen to remember that one at all?

Man, I remember all the other years at Dover. I started in ’15 with the 4 car and I don’t know. I would say we finished about 17th, probably qualified about there to 20th maybe, I don’t know.

No, this was a better day than that. You finished 12th. You started 11th. This was a race that Daniel Suarez won. You finished right behind Bubba Wallace and ahead of Regan Smith in this race.


No memory of it?

No, not really. We do a lot of promoting up there, and by the time the race comes around it’s like, “Finally, all the promotion is done.”

7. Who is the best rapper alive?

I don’t know.

I had a feeling you couldn’t give me a good answer.

I honestly, to be truthful with you, I don’t know. Who do you think?

I think Kendrick Lamar.

I don’t keep up with all that. I’m pretty isolated, I guess.

That’s why I have the question on here, because either people know it or it shows about their musical taste that they don’t know it.

I like country — I call it old country, like 90s.

You don’t like bro country?

No. And then Jay (Robinson), my Cup owner, he laughed at me about a week ago because something came on and I said, “Oh yeah, this is some good old country.” He goes, “Old country? This is the new stuff!” So that was funny. But no bro country. I’m pretty simple.

8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?

Can I pass on this or not?

I feel like you’ve already punched some faces. Or been punched.

Yeah, yeah. Being that we’re able to stand each other now and we shook hands and we can pass each other and say “Hey,” I guess Jeremy Clements (who he fought with at Bristol in April 2017). To answer your question, that’s pretty punchable.

But you’re good now, you said?

Yeah, right after that, it was like nothing ever happened and he was great, so I’m going to be great. Because granted, I was the aggressor when it finally came to a face to face, but I felt like that was my stance, I had to do it. So yeah, he changed right then and we’ve been great.

Still not the way to handle stuff, but that’s obviously, unfortunately, firsthand experience in NASCAR, but I hope that it never happens with me again.

I am glad to talk to somebody who is actually punched as part of this question. At least we have somebody who has firsthand experience.

Literally, first-hand.

9. NASCAR enlists three famous Americans to be involved with your team for one race as part of a publicity push: Taylor Swift, LeBron James and Tom Hanks. Choose one to be your crew chief, one to be your spotter and one to be your motorhome driver.

I guess we can put LeBron up on the roof because I can always just turn that down and I don’t have to listen to him if I don’t want to, because we can turn our spotters down when we want to. Now my spotters, both of them, are going to give me a hard time for that. But that’s good. Got to keep them on their toes.

I guess Taylor could be the motorhome driver, I guess — if I had a (motor)coach. And then I guess Tom Hanks is on the box. I feel like he would be practical enough, he could choose between two and four tires. That’s a pretty easy deal there.

So you don’t have a motorhome now?

I have a trailer, one of those toy haulers, and I drive it to those close ones that are around.

You drive it yourself there?


The rest of the time you’re in the hotel life?

Yeah, I flew up commercial (for the New Hampshire race) into Boston and drove up just to save the team a few dollars — because we can go on the charter planes and stuff but, gosh, that stuff adds up. So if it’s close enough, it’s cheaper to drive that thing.

And I enjoy it. I always grew up going in motorhomes and traveling all over. And there’s always something wrong with them, right? They’re always breaking and something’s always wrong. I enjoy tinkering with them and just kind of taking a day or two to get to the track is not a bad thing.

Do you ever run into fans in the hotel lobby for breakfast or something like that?

I see it more at KOA (campgrounds) and stuff, actually. I guess you talk more in the campgrounds, I feel like. Hotels are just in and out. But yeah, every now and then we’ll do meet-and-greets at the hotels and stuff since they’re working with us, sponsoring the race car. It’s usually where the teams try to stay, obviously, so doing a meet-and-greet and meeting a lot of people there though.

10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?

I’m trying to get better at this, because I used to be so nervous — like I would wait until the last second after intros. I would never scope it out beforehand. I would just get off the truck or get off the intro stage and look.

Usually a lot of the PR people will have it picked out for their drivers. But Alex (Tauras, who handles the team’s public relations) is usually setting up our pit boxes — he’s got to get all the computers set up for all four teams. So I’ll look for just different people that I know personally who are PR reps and they’ll kind of point me in that direction.

But a couple of weeks ago I started to just go before intros and I’ve been fine. It’s only the difference in 15, 20 minutes. But it’s more for me it was a nerves thing. You always feel like you have to go the whole time. So you feel like if you go right at the end, at the last possible moment, then you’re safe. But yeah, I’m getting better. I’ve worked on it. I’ll just go before and get it out of the way.

That makes sense to me. No one had said that all year until Denny Hamlin said that recently, like he just goes before he goes to intros.

I don’t know. I’m nervous. I’m not going to lie, the whole lead-up to the race, out of my whole career, that’s when I’ve always been the most nervous — like national anthem, the prayer, standing out there.

Plus it’s like usually echoing and it’s hard to hear who’s on stage singing or the prayer, so you’re trying to listen and trying to figure out when they stop praying, when they start singing, and sometimes there’s a delay in TV. They’ll show you’ve got your head bowed for the national anthem. It’s like, no, I wasn’t trying to, I just can’t hear anything.

11. NASCAR decides they miss the highlight reel value brought by Carl Edwards’ backflips and want a replacement. How much money would they have to offer for you to backflip off your car following your next win?

You’d have to pay for like the rest of my life because I wouldn’t make it. No matter what, I’ve never done a backflip off of anything. It wouldn’t be possible, so I don’t think there’s a dollar value. I’d rather keep racing.

They’ve got other people who can do that, I guess. Have you found anybody that truthfully could do it?

Daniel Hemric apparently can do it standing up without even being off the top of his car.

Yeah, I’ve seen him do it off a Late Model roof, and that was impressive because they are flimsy. I think he did it with a checkered flag in each hand and they were waving as he did it. There’s probably a picture out there, I think.

12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week’s was with AJ Allmendinger. His question for you was: Could you beat Joey Chestnut in a watermelon-eating contest?

No, I could not. We actually just did one, we try to do one at Dover every year for our “Protect your melon” and “Use your melon” campaigns, and we had the national watermelon queen and the Florida watermelon queen and me and my brother, we all did it. And Queen Savannah, the national queen, she was done and I had just gotten the first layer off, a quarter wedge of watermelon. It was insane. So she kicked our butts, basically, is what I’m saying. So no, I could not beat probably anybody, I don’t think.

Maybe she could, though.

Yeah, I would sub her in for me, let her take my place.

I don’t know who the next interview is going to be with. Do you have a question I can ask another driver in the garage?

So I’ve asked this question and no one has ever done it for me. But if you felt like you were struggling in practice, would you let somebody get in your car to shake it down, to see what they thought it was better? Like I’ve asked, when I drove for Brad (Keselowski) in his Truck team, I asked Brad to get in the truck and he said, “No.” He wouldn’t do it. I said, “Oh, I just want you to get it and take it out one time.” So all along the years, I’ve asked other people — Landon (Cassill) was here, I wanted him to get in the 4 car. Nobody ever wanted to do it. So would you do it, and if you could, who would you pick?

Why don’t they do it?

I don’t know. I’ve gotten in other people’s.

People have asked you?

Yeah, I go get in trucks almost every weekend these days. I got in at Charlotte for Korbin Forrister and their 7 truck, and then I got out of that and the 49 truck, which is a Premium truck — I drive their Cup car, they saw me get out so they asked me to — so I went down and got in the 49 truck right after that. So I just get in, adapt to the seat a little bit, get the seatbelts where they fit, and go run three or four laps just to give my opinion on what the truck’s doing.

12 Questions with Garrett Smithley

The 12 Questions interviews continue this week with Garrett Smithley, driver of the No. 0 car for JD Motorsports in the Xfinity Series. This interview is available in both written and podcast form.

1. How much of your success is based on natural ability and how much has come from working at it?

I think you have to have natural ability. I started racing very late compared to a lot of guys. I started at 15 in Bandoleros and Legend cars. When I started racing, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t have family that came from a racing background. I’m a first generation racer; my dad never raced. It’s a wonder we went to victory lane at all and won championships.

So I think it has a ton to do with natural ability. I think now that I’m in NASCAR the last few years, racing some Truck races, last year running pretty much a full season with JD Motorsports and coming back for a second full season, I think that’s when I’m really going to have to put in the work.

There’s only so much you can do on your natural ability side, so now I have to work at how to adapt to these tracks, how to adapt to these cars, how to make my car better. Anybody can drive a good-handling race car, it’s those who have to work at how to make that race car better (who stand out). My natural ability has gotten me to this point, now the hard work is going to get me to the next level.

If you started racing so late, how do you think you picked it up so fast? Did you just learn from watching races as a fan?

I think it had a lot to do with watching the sport for so long, going to short track races. My very first stock car race was at Pocono in an ARCA race, so I never did any short track Late Model stuff. I just did Bandolero and Legend cars. I think it was a combination of my ability to adapt and get in the car and know what to do and also just be that sponge.

I’m not that driver that says, “Oh, I know everything.” If somebody has been in the sport for 20 or 30 years — even 10 years — if they tell me something, I’m going to listen to that. And I’m going to take that to heart and apply it to what I’m doing. That’s just how I’ve always been.

2. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards have all retired in the last couple years. What’s your pitch for fans of theirs to become fans of yours?

I have fun with everything I do. Being in NASCAR, I don’t take it for granted. It’s such an amazing opportunity to be at this level, be at the second-highest stock car series in the world behind the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. I just have so much fun, and I love social media. I love being on Snapchat and Twitter and I love being vocal and interacting with fans. So I just think if you follow me, I have a good time, so I hope my good time translates to fans having good times.

We had a lot of fun last year with the 0 car doing the whole “Number Nuthin” thing. We have Nuthin Nation going. So come on over to Nuthin Nation; we’re having a blast.

3. What is the hardest part of your job away from the racetrack?

Probably the sponsorship search, to be honest. For me, I’m pretty much making calls and dialing for dollars (during the week), trying to get sponsors in for JD Motorsports. We have some really great partners with Flex Seal and G&K Services and some of my partners I’ve brought from last year — KY FAME and Mubea — but it’s never enough.

Being a small three-car team, competing against Gibbs and RCR and JR Motorsports, it’s tough. It’s kind of the David and Goliath thing. So we always are trying to get more support. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I’m searching for sponsors and trying to get new partners to help us out to compete with those guys. And then Thursday, Friday, Saturday, I’m on the road and here at the racetrack.

But I’ve learned a ton doing that part. I’ve learned very early in my career that to be successful as a race car driver, you have to worry about the business side of it and the marketing side of it. That’s one thing I’ve really taken to heart. When I stop focusing on going racing all the time and being so obsessed with that and started focusing on the business side of it, that’s when I started becoming successful.

Do you cold call people and just hope it works out?

Yeah. So many times, you get 1,000 “nos” before you get that one “yes.” When that one “yes” comes and it’s a big thing, it’s huge.

I’ll sit there and go on Google Maps, look up where we’re racing — especially if we’re doing a standalone Xfinity race — and I’m looking at companies that are around the track and I’m calling, I’m sending emails, I’m doing the whole thing.

How do you deal with the rejection that comes with that? It has to be discouraging at times.

When I was a kid, I was really, really shy. And I was terrified of phone calls. And still to this day, I’m not scared of them, but I still get a little anxiety when I pick up the phone and call somebody for the first time.

You’ve just got to take it with a grain of salt. You’ve got to really realize what you’re doing it for and the payoff when you get to the track on Friday and Saturday and you run that car at a 190 mph. That’s the payoff and that’s why we do it.

4. A fan spots you eating dinner in a nice restaurant. Should they come over for an autograph or no?

I think maybe this answer might change, maybe if I get to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series level. But right now, I mean, yeah. I remember the very first time I got recognized out of my suit. I just thought that was so cool. I think there’s definitely a right way to do it.

We’re always out to dinner when (my parents) come to the racetrack. My mom and dad are very supportive and they’re always involved. Of course, when we’re out and a waiter or waitress asks, “Oh, are you guys in for the race?” (My mom says) “Oh yeah, my son is a NASCAR driver!” I’m always just like, “Oh no.” So that’s a little funny.

But I think there’s a right way to do it. If they come over and ask for the autograph, as long as if (when) you sign and take pictures, they don’t linger, I think that’s fine.

5. What’s a story in NASCAR that doesn’t get enough coverage?

Oh, there’s so many stories. I think just the stories of all the guys behind the scenes. The driver stories always get told on where they started and where they came from and how they got up the ladder. But I think some of the crew guys that work so hard — especially our JD Motorsports team. We’ve got 14 or 15 guys that come out to the racetrack every week — for three cars. And there are teams with 15 guys for one car.

I think the story of our team and what they do at the shop and how hard they’ve worked all offseason — and I mean, that’s across the board, that’s every team, all the way up to the top. These guys work so hard week in and week out, and I think that story needs to be told a little bit more.

6. Who is the last driver you texted?

Probably Matt DiBenedetto. He and Ryan Ellis are always hanging out. They’ve been trying to get me to hang out all weekend. They’ve got the whole PR/driver duo thing going on. They’re fun. Ryan just recently got engaged and they had me over for their engagement party and we had a Mario Kart tournament. So we had a good time doing that.

7. Do you consider race car drivers to be entertainers?

Definitely. I come from a theater background, and when I was 6 or 7 years old, I did my first play with my mom. My parents were always very instrumental in putting us — me and my brother (who is two years younger) in everything. We sang at church, we danced, we did theater, we played baseball, we played football — all kinds of stuff.

They never pushed me to do one certain thing, so it’s kind of crazy when I finally got to the point when I said, “Racing is what I want to do,” they were supportive of it. They could only help so much, but they were always supportive.

So being in theater, I was in plays when I was in high school and I did leads, and there’d be times when I would race in the afternoon, then leave and book it to the theater and do a play that night.

So knowing the similarities behind it, it’s just a different performance. We’re still entertaining — getting the fans involved on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat. We’re always trying to be entertaining and fun. I think that’s a lot of what’s missing, and that’s what I like to do.

I like to show my personality. I like to be out there, I like to do crazy things. I did some crazy dress-up thing at Darlington for the throwback weekend. I wore a big afro and platform shoes. You can go look on my Facebook. It’s fun.

What’s a notable role you played in a play or musical?

My very first big lead role — I was a junior in high school — was Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. That was so cool to do. And that was pretty much my dream role.

One thing about that: It was really cool, because me and Charlie have a lot of similarities. He was always thinking positive. And my motto on every car I drive is, “Patience, never give up.” So it’s kind of that mantra, and it was really cool to play it on stage.

8. What is your middle finger policy on the racetrack?

I don’t think I’ve ever given the middle finger. That’s just not in my character. I mean, I’ll give hand signals like, “Hey, what are you doing?” I’ll get frustrated. (But) I’m not that guy to curse and yell and stuff like that.

I’m super competitive and I want to be the best, but I’ve always been that guy to talk things out. If something is going on, (I’ll say), “Hey man, what was that all about?” Or “Hey, give me some slack.” I only had one or two problems on the track last year, and we talked it out, and it was good afterward. I’ve never (given the finger) and I hope I don’t.

9. Some drivers keep a payback list in their minds. Do you also have a list for drivers who have done you a favor on the track?

Yeah, 100 percent. We race 33 times a year in the Xfinity Series. If you’re constantly focusing on all the negative and, “Oh, I owe that guy,” you’re never going to be successful. Even that payback list — yeah, you always keep that in the back of your mind (and) maybe you race a little harder because of something they did the previous week. But at the end of the day, if you don’t let it go, you’re going to be fixated on it. My policy is just let it go. Definitely, if it happens again, you may want to say or do something. But you definitely show different guys different respect. If they cut you some slack, you’ll cut them some slack next time.

10. Who is the most famous person you’ve had dinner with?

When I was 15 or 16 and racing Bandeleros and just starting racing, a buddy of mine was friends with Kyle Petty. And Kyle Petty showed up to dinner, and that was really, really cool, because that was the first time I had really met a NASCAR driver. I haven’t really had many famous dinners, but that one kind of sticks out to me. Because it was like the first time, like, “Oh my gosh, that’s Kyle Petty. That’s so cool.”

He’s a very engaging and friendly guy.

Yeah. He’s always had that personality and is definitely somebody I look up to. My all-time hero in racing was Dale Jarrett. I got to meet him. I had an incident on the track at Kentucky in practice where I got really, really sideways and slid and had a big save. And Dale was like, “Hey, that was awesome. He made an awesome save. I don’t know how he did that.” I was like, “Wow, that’s my hero talking about me making a save on track.” That was so, so cool.

11. What’s something about yourself you’d like to improve?

Probably my organization skills and time management. I’ve never been really (good about) being on time and things like that. I know that’s kind of important. And just organization. I’m kind of a messy person, and everybody says I’m ADD or ADHD. I’ve never been diagnosed or anything like that, but I can get a little scatterbrained at times. I think that’s why I’m so good in the race car, because when I get in, I’m so laser-focused on what I’m doing that it just calms my brain down. So I’d definitely like to be more organized.

12. The question from the last person was Martin Truex Jr. His question is, “Who do you think the team to beat in Cup is this year?”

You gotta say Gibbs, right? I mean, last year, the Xfinity Series, Gibbs had it all wrapped up. Nobody could really touch them until really the end of the year. I think you’ve got to say Gibbs for sure.

And do you have a question for the next interview?

I’m hoping it’s a veteran driver. I’d like to ask when they were a rookie, what are some things they wish they did differently to better themselves?

And maybe follow me on Twitter.