Fans of NASCAR know a driver’s season can mimic a roller coaster ride. 2021 has been no exception for Spencer Boyd.
In the second installment of Terra Talks with Spencer Boyd, the driver of the No. 20 Young’s Motorsports Chevy Silverado candidly reflects on recent performance.
Lighter topics were on the docket as well, including his thoughts on a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series All-Star Race and the history behind naming his race trucks. Additionally, we touched on hot topics and focal points from recent races.
Terra Jones: I want to start with your trend of naming your race trucks. I see sometimes you announce a name, sometimes you open it up to the fans. How did this get started and what are some of your favorite names from over the years?
Spencer Boyd: (laughs) I don’t really know how it started or which was the first one. It just kinda happened over time. I started naming them, then the fans started giving their opinion, and I’m like, “Alright, this might be cool!” But we want to make sure the sponsor is still out there and we don’t just go by the name.
I kind of recall the ‘Road Warrior’ being the first one with American Pavement at Vegas in 2020. Then we rolled over to ‘Flower Power’ with Rich Mar Florist, which stands out. And they’ve done some promotions around the other cars that they’ve sponsored with the whole #FlowerPower.
Right now, one of my main partners is Credit MRI. It’s lime green and we had to call it ‘The Hulk.’ I let the fans pick that one. So it’s been a lot of fun! People throw out some crazy names!
Jones: That is really fun, and a great way to connect fans to your sponsors! Moving to the track, I’m going to pull a focal point or a hot topic from a few of the races since we last spoke.
First up, the Bristol Dirt Race. At the beginning of the season, it didn’t sound like it was super high on your ‘fun things to do’ list! Listening in on the scanner, I felt like your spotter (Stephen Leicht) did an awesome job coaching you around the track and just teaching you how to attack the corners. First off, what were your thoughts on the race in general, and what, if anything, would you like to see NASCAR change for next time?
Boyd: Yeah! That was a super challenging weekend. Never having been on dirt, then the first time on dirt is at Bristol? (laughs) It was pretty wild! Add a car that’s not really built to be on dirt, it’s challenging to drive those. All in all, my spotter and my team worked really hard to coach me through that and get through it. I would say it’s a weekend we just got through!
But marketing-wise, it was a lot of fun! With EcoTwist Laundry Detergent, it really made sense to have them on board for the dirt race. My suit was so filthy and EcoTwist got it all clean! So, it was fun for that.
I know we’re going to go back – it was announced during the Cup race. But the rain. Some of these really cool, one-off races have been challenging because of all the weather NASCAR has dealt with. I think the weather gods, as soon as NASCAR says they’re coming to town, they make it rain! But, it was challenging…we had all been pushed to our limits of just being at the track.
But, I enjoyed it. I feel way more comfortable going into the next dirt race. And Knoxville is back in the midwest and I love racing kind of around my hometown and home fans.
Jones: And you set me up perfectly for the follow-up – what did you learn during the Bristol Dirt Race that you can apply to the Knoxville race?
Boyd: So, Knoxville is a lot flatter and way different dirt. It’s definitely a purpose-built dirt track. The hype around it is the history, so that’ll be cool to be a part of that. But, just learning how to drive these trucks on dirt. It’s so different. Just the amount of wheel input – you gotta have fast hands, but you wanna be smooth. I feel more prepared, but I would definitely like to go run something on dirt before we show up at Knoxville.
Jones: Now, this was the second time in recent years the Trucks have raced at Darlington. How are you liking that track being on the schedule?
Boyd: It’s such a fun place! Another track that has a lot of history. It’s an abrasive surface and just a fun place! I think it’s a great track for the Truck Series. A lot of people know that I love short track racing, and Darlington isn’t a “short track” but it has that feel. You’re leaning on each other, you’re getting up by the fence, you’re racing really hard, it’s really easy to overstep the boundaries and have a bad day.
For us, I felt like we had everything going pretty smooth, avoided the wrecks, and were running 15th-20th later in the race. Unfortunately, got a pinhole in the oil line from one of those big wrecks. But it could have been a lot worse. We salvaged some points. But just the amount of respect you have to have for Darlington to have any sense of speed there. It makes it challenging, but a lot of fun.
Jones: Too tough to tame, for sure! Now, your throwback was a tribute to Jack Sprague. You posted that he stopped by the shop to check out the truck. What did he have to say about your scheme?
Boyd: That was cool! That was my first time meeting him – a three-time Truck champion. When we are putting our throwback together, you know, I had Todd Bodine the year before, I really try to embrace the full throwback deal. It’s exciting and so cool when those guys are willing to let you run their paint scheme.
The sponsors have to get behind it and there is a lot of behind-the-scenes. But he said, “Look. This is a place where you take an inch at a time. If you go grab a foot, you’re gonna be in the fence!” (laughs) He had a lot of success there, so we talked before and after the race. He actually said it was one of the few races he has watched lately, so that was exciting.
Jones: That’s really cool to have his first-hand approval on that! There have been a handful of races so far this season where current, full-time Cup drivers, who are also past Cup Series Champions, have been in the Truck field. I’m sure you know this is a hotly debated topic amongst fans. But, as a driver, what are your thoughts on racing against Cup champions in the Truck Series?
Boyd: So, my answer is going to depend on the weekend! If we go to a mile-and-a-half, and Kyle Busch is in the field and the fans are in the grandstands, you see a lot of yellow, you see a lot of M&M’s. You know that he does a lot for the sport and he brings a lot of fans that may not have been at the Truck race. He’s definitely a fan favorite when it comes to young kids. So, realistically, I think it’s a must. Sometimes it’s aggravating because Kyle’s going to set a blazing pace and contend for every win in every race that he’s in.
But, I try to look at things from a driver’s perspective as an opportunity to learn from those guys. I have to push myself, knowing that the race pace is going to be faster and I need to manage that. Then, from a business side, it’s great for the sport and every partner out there.
(laughs) So I take it in stride, but it is tough knowing that the more of those guys that show up, the more frustrating it does get!
Jones: Definitely a double-edged sword! Unfortunately, you didn’t qualify for COTA. I’m sure each driver handles circumstances like this differently. For you personally, how do you reset from a weekend like that?
Boyd: Yeah, this was the first time this happened to me. It’s tough. It’s definitely not something you look forward to, but you have to know going into it that it’s a possibility. So, I was prepared knowing that my owner’s points may not put me in. It was a tough deal with all the hype around the 100th start and getting excited. I love road course racing, but, we just missed it by a little bit there. I knew that we were going to be battling for the top 31 on speed.
But throwing it back to the question, you gotta put it in the rearview. I made that post earlier. You want to move forward, but you don’t want to forget about it. And obviously, a lot of partners have gotten me here and kept me going, so we have to move forward. At the end of the day, as a team, we have to focus on the next race.
This morning, we spent time talking about the road course and what we could have done to get more speed, our strategy when it comes to qualifying in the rain. With that, when we went back out, it was a lot wetter so we couldn’t improve our lap time, so that was frustrating.
But, everyone was dealt those same cards. So, we’ll move on. Right now, we’re really focused on mile-and-a-half tracks and all the speed we can squeeze out of this Credit MRI Chevy this weekend!
Jones: Thank you for being candid with that. I didn’t want to bring it up and pour salt on the wound, but I thought fans would appreciate hearing how you and your team are regrouping moving ahead to Charlotte this weekend.
Moving away from the track, I mentioned your spotter, but let’s talk about your crew chief, Joe Lax, for a moment. This is your second full-time Truck season with him. I’m always curious how these working relationships began, so could you share a bit about that?
Boyd: Yeah! Joe and I worked together in my first Xfinity race in Iowa, 2016, with Rick Ware Racing. We’ve always kept in touch – he’s a big outdoorsman and we’ve become buddies over the years. Last year, when we were looking to fill the position in 2020, it seemed like a good fit and we’ve just kind of grown it from there.
I think every relationship has bumps in the road and it’s one of those things where you have to keep the faith in each other. Keep pounding to get better and improve. We know where we are and what we need to do to get better. The thing is, you can’t make too many changes. And when things have worked in the past, you have to recognize that success and then understand these failures that have been bumps in the road – just learn from them and move forward together. Learning from it is better than just throwing new kinks in the chain.
Jones: You have two young teammates, in terms of track time, this season with Kris Wright and Tate Fogleman. How are they leaning on you as the more veteran driver of the organization? And conversely, what are you learning from them?
Boyd: Tate and I raced together full-time last season and we’ve become friends. It’s been good to lean on each other. I feel I’m probably better at the short tracks and he’s better than me at the mile-and-a-half tracks – and that’s how it goes! We chat a lot about those and what we can do to learn from each other.
At the road course, we were looking at each other like, “Ehh, this is going to be an intense weekend!” And it played out for me to miss it, but I’m proud of him and his team for sneaking in and making that happen. Just unfortunate on our end. But, Kaz Grala, man he’s a road course king! So we were really excited to see that and showcase our equipment and what we’re capable of.
Then, my other teammate, Kris Wright, he’s been doing Truck and Xfinity. And like I said, you want to become friends with these guys. It’s easier with Tate because he lives down here and Kris is still up in Pittsburgh, but he spends a lot of time down here trying to prepare. We do a lot of simulator racing and a lot of talking, not only about how to find speed but also about life as a NASCAR driver and the challenges.
I find myself in my fifth year, and I feel really fortunate to be in NASCAR that long, but there are always questions along the way. It’s been fun to hang out with those guys and see their progress.
Jones: Two more for you. I’ve come up with the “Quarterly Question” for the drivers in this series. With the All-Star Race coming up next month for the Cup Series, if the Truck Series were to get an All-Star Race, what is something would you like to see NASCAR try out?
Boyd: Oooh, I would make the All-Star Race on a short track – a mile or under. That would have to be the first thing to change. And I always go back to Tony Stewart and him saying something about going half the race one direction and the other half the other direction! (laughs) I don’t think I would ask them to do that, but I do think it’d be cool to have a position swap! You know, if you were in this position at one particular stage in the race, like, you finish fifth, you’ll restart third. Or finish second, you’ll restart 10th. I think it could create a lot of gamesmanship.
And that’s what it’s all about with these races – just moving people around where it’s less lead follow and more opportunities for fans to see exciting passes. Passes are key, but I think what fans want, or when I watch F1 or another series, we’re looking for those near-misses. Those exciting passes where you’re like, “Wow! That took a lot of guts to do,” or, “Can’t believe they made it through that!” Those are exciting moments for fans that tend to live on after the event.
Jones: That’s so true! I like those ideas! Finally, the next time we talk will be in August. As you head into the back half of the regular season, what are some expectations or goals for you and your team?
Boyd: It’s definitely very similar to always – progress and building on what we’ve got. I will say right now, we’re in a bit of a hole compared to where we expected to be, but you have to prepare for that and understand it can happen.
We’re moving into some races that I like. Charlotte is a good track and it’s always nice to race in your backyard – it feels a little less stressful and a little more like home. Then we go out to Texas. Texas Motor Speedway is one of my favorite mile-and-a-half tracks. Nashville’s going to be exciting!
There’s a lot of tracks on our radar that are going to be challenging, but I feel we’re in a good spot. Everyone on the team wanting to do better is always a good thing. Leaning on our teammates and their recent success is going to give us a little more speed when we show up off the truck.
A huge thank you to Spencer Boyd for taking the time, not only to speak openly on where the No. 20 Young’s Motorsports team is, but where they hope to be headed in the coming weeks and months. Be sure to give his many partners a follow, as well as the social accounts for him and his team.