By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
For this week’s edition of Climbing the Ladder, Seth Eggert sat down with NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series driver Spencer Boyd. He drives the No. 20 1A Auto / EZ Red / DLX Mattresses / Texas Rig Equipment Chevrolet Silverado for Young’s Motorsports.
The 23-year-old competed full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series last year.
Boyd is currently 12th in the championship standings, 186-points behind points leader Grant Enfinger. He is also 108-points behind the cutoff for the playoffs, held by Todd Gilliland. Boyd is also running for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors.
Seth Eggert:How did you become interested in motorsports?
Spencer Boyd: “For me, I take you way back, started out in dirt bikes and go-karts. Being an only child, and my parents were big race fans, into the outdoor lifestyle, things that were fast.
“They got me on a four-wheeler when I was two-years-old, so I don’t want to say that I didn’t have a choice, but it definitely led me to have the opportunity to fall in love with motorsports.”
SE: How did you convince your parents to let you race? Was it difficult?
SB: “It wasn’t hard with go-karts. Racing dirt bikes, everyone was getting hurt and my mom was definitely a big fan of the go-kart racing. When I jumped in that, I didn’t lose a race for the first couple of years.
“Ran go-karts all over the country and that led to a love for racing, paying attention to Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, and guys like that back in the day. It’s cool to be on the same track as them sometimes.”
SE:Where and when was your first race? What was the result?
SB: “My first go-kart race would be St. Louis, MO. The first go-kart track that I ran on was actually next to I-55, the big dirt track that Ken Schrader owns. Schrader was out there all of the time when I was racing karts, so that was pretty cool to meet those guys. We won.”
SE:Who would you consider your mentor?
SB: “That’s tough. There’s so many guys that you look up to. As a kid, you’re definitely looking up to Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson. Through my teens, I changed my Legend Car number to the 18. I was getting pretty well known for being aggressive and using the bumper, so I was watching Kyle Busch a lot. Now that I’m in the sport and at this level, I’ve leaned on guys like Mark Martin, Todd Bodine. Guys like that.”
SE:What inspires you to compete?
SB: “For me, it’s just winning. Every time you go out there, you want to win. In this sport, sometimes it hits you right in the gut. It’s tough here in the top three series of NASCAR.
“Growing up racing go-karts, Legends cars, Late Models, I was fortunate to be in good equipment, have good people around me, and that led to me winning a lot of races. That made me want to pursue racing, make it to the top three series.
“Running Xfinity last year was an eye opener to how tough this sport is. Trucks, you have your good days and bad days. Being with Young’s Motorsports, I feel that we have some really good equipment. I’m just learning with my crew chief ‘Panda’ and going back to these tracks a second time.”
SE: Do you have any superstitions around the racetrack?
SB: “I think that’s probably my most asked question that people want to know. I just put my stuff on the same way every time, gloves, helmet, everything. Growing up racing, I’ve just done everything the same way.
“The first time I had to race with headphones and radio I was like, ‘this is throwing off my whole system. How am I going to get ready? What is this going to do?’ It’s the little things like that. Repetition is key in our sport, muscle memory.
“I do the same thing every time, but you pick up every lucky penny you can find, and sometimes you look at that for good luck.”
SE: Is there a specific track that you would want to win at?
SB:“Richmond for sure. It would be great to win at Charlotte, here in NASCAR’s backyard. Being from St. Louis, Gateway would be cool. But Richmond would be special to me, I love that racetrack. It’s my favorite, I talk about it all of the time.
“Trucks are going back there next year, so I’m excited. Victory Lane is cool there. Driver Intros with all the smoke, they put a lot of effort into that race.”
SE: Last year, you competed full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with limited experience. Do you feel that you moved up too quickly or was that the only opportunity you had at the time?
SB: “You take every opportunity you can get. Can’t go back and change things and that has definitely made me who I am. I appreciate the opportunity to be in Xfinity, but it is definitely a tough series. All of these series are super competitive.
“The decision to go back to trucks was to try to be in more competitive equipment, reset what I was doing. The opportunity to drive for Tyler Young was a no-brainer. Wouldn’t change it for the world.
“The fourth-place at Daytona was huge. We want to better that. These mile and a half’s are just learning, so I’m leaning on people, even my teammates here at Young’s Motorsports. To have all of those resources is a big thing for me.”
SE: With all of your teammates being rookies this season, do you feel like the veteran of the team because of your Xfinity Series experience?
SB:“I feel like the old guy sometimes. These guys are fast, they’ve won a lot of races, K&N, ARCA, stuff like that. I find myself asking them a lot of questions. The Trucks drive so much different from Xfinity cars. We lean on each other, but some days I ask more questions than I like.
“To have that opportunity is good. Last year, I was kind of thrown in the dark, didn’t have really a teammate to lean on, our equipment was a lot different, we were both on different agendas.
“This year, I can lean on them a lot more. It’s a lot more fun and you know where you should be, throughout practice and the race, you know what you’re capable of.”
SE: Did your experience in the Xfinity Series help prepare you for your first full season in the Truck Series?
SB:“I think that racing, getting seat-time overall at these tracks is important. It’s nice to unload and know where the bumps are. Last year there were so many nerve-wracking moments. This year, you know what you’re doing, where you’re going, but the trucks do drive a lot different.
“Seat-time period is good. You’ve got guys coming up from K&N and ARCA and they’ve never ran this track or trucks. You can’t say ‘I’ve never done this, so I won’t be good.’
“It’s nice to lean on previous experience, but it’s nice to be in the situation where we have all of the tires, know that you have good equipment. A lot of people that have followed my career know that I haven’t always had that luxury. These resources are nice to have.”
SE: In 2017 at Talladega Superspeedway, you drove for Copp Motorsports and earned what at the time was the organization’s best finish. What does it mean to you to be able help a team improve like that?
SB: “We had our best finish here at Young’s, a fourth at a speedway. Speedway racing is about predicting what is going to happen and where you need to be, staying smart all race. I’ve had several good runs on speedways and not so good runs.
“It happens, but it’s cool to go get a best finish for a team. That feels good, especially a team that has had a lot of different drivers.”
SE: With the race at Daytona International Speedway being one of survival and the fact that you were able to finish with a top-five, does that give you confidence heading into the next speedway race later this year?
SB: “We had really good speed, qualified 14th, and all of our trucks were right there. At a speedway, you know if you qualify in the first half of the field that you have speed because everyone is close on speed at speedways.
“Surviving, that lets you know that you’re reading it right, playing smart in the race, but you can get wrecked leading. We saw that happen. But that being my first race with Young’s, coming off with that momentum makes everyone happy. You ride that wave as long as you can and look for the next good finish to keep spirits high.”
SE: Are you still riding that wave of momentum at all?
SB: “I wouldn’t say we’re still riding it. Our 12th-place at Texas was good. We’ve had a couple of bad weeks and that happens. You know you struggle at places, sometimes you miss it, sometimes as a driver you’re struggling. This is a super competitive field.”
SE: What does the future hold for you, where will you be one year from now?
SB:“My goal would be to be here at Young’s Motorsports. I feel like it’s a good home. Tyler and I are pretty tight. Everyone here is pulling the rope in the same direction. I’ve seen this team grow a lot. I’ve been a part of good days and bad days.
“I’d like to be here for the long haul and a part of the Truck Series. You can learn a lot about TV. There’s a lot of people taking this series in the right direction. I’m lucky to be a part of it, and I feel like I made a good decision going to trucks this year.”