Q&A with Garrett Smithley

By John Haverlin
October 8, 2017

After the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Dover International Speedway last weekend, The Racing Experts sat down with Garrett Smithley, driver of the No. 0 Chevrolet for JD Motorsports, to discuss his career and goals as a professional racecar driver.

Smithley was in the RV lot outside the track signing autographs for fans. Jerry Jordan of KickinTheTires.net arranged the autograph session with Smithley as well as this interview, which took place in his RV.

Thank you to Jerry Jordan and Garrett Smithley for making this Q&A possible. Follow them on Twitter: @JerryJordan_KTT and @GarrettSmithley

TRE: This is your second season in the XFINITY Series. How would you evaluate your career racing full-time at one of NASCAR’s top levels?

SMITHLEY: “Well, that’s a tough question. It’s pretty crazy to be in my second full season in XFINITY. I have to catch myself every once in awhile, and really have to appreciate it. Because it’s like, I worked so hard my whole racing career to get to this point, and it’s pretty darn cool to be here.

“The first season just went phenomenal. Everything went so well and I think it’s because I just had no expectations for it. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. At that point, I only started five ARCA races and four Truck races, and one XFINITY race. And then, that’s when I got hooked up with Johnny Davis (JD Motorsports team owner). This season, obviously there was a little more pressure. We want to perform and the start to the season really didn’t go the way I wanted it to. I’m not going to lie, we struggled in the early part of the season and these last few races, probably about halfway and beyond, have really gone well.

“I’m optimistic. I’m just lucky to still be here and still be racing. Not having a lot of funding behind me and not having a big name; it’s pretty cool to still be racing here.”

TRE: I know you’re happy with your place at JD Motorsports, but one of your teammates from last year, Ryan Preece, came back this season to run a handful of races in a Joe Gibbs Racing car. If you were given a similar opportunity, do you think you could put on a similar performance? (Preece has three top-five finishes, including a win at Iowa Speedway this year.)

SMITHLEY: “I would think so. I mean, I beat him several times last year (laughs). I feel like if I didn’t believe that, then I should probably stop racing.

“One day, I want to be with a top-level Cup team winning races. My end goal in this whole racing thing is to end up in the NASCAR Hall of Fame as a driver. It’s a lofty goal, and some say I might be crazy for having that goal, but I feel like if I have that goal, I’m never going to stop trying to achieve things. I’m so humbled and so appreciative to be in this position and be racing full-time in NASCAR, but I could very easily be complacent.

“I could say, ‘This is good. I’m having a blast and making a living,’ but that’s not good enough. I feel like if I have that opportunity, I’ll enjoy it, but I’m still going to be chasing that end goal.”

TRE: Are there any plans to run any Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races?

SMITHLEY: “Yeah, we’ve talked to some people. There’s been some opportunities that have come and gone. When I make my Cup debut, I want it to be in the right position and in the right place. Early in the season, I wanted to focus on XFINITY, I wanted to focus on JD Motorsports and what we were doing and not take anything away from that. And that’s what I’ve done.

“If the opportunity comes up, I’d absolutely love to do it. We’ll just kind of see where it goes.”

TRE: If you were presented the opportunity to race at a lower level, like the Truck Series or something like that, would you race there if you were in a car that could win on a weekly basis?

SMITHLEY: “You have to look at it. I’m a racer and I have a slew of trophies back home from Bandoleros and Legend car days. I’ve won championships and I’ve done everything I could in Bandoleros and Legend cars.

“If you’re a racer and you’re not chasing a trophy, then you’re no longer a racer. I’m really happy with the opportunities I’ve been presented at JD Motorsports, but obviously, at some point, I definitely want to be in a position where I can go chase that trophy.

“You know, it depends, but at this point, I’m loyal to Johnny and anything I do from here on out for the rest of the season, I would talk to him first. It depends and we’ll see where we’ll end up.”

Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Jeremy Thompson/The Racing Experts