THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Zane Smith, driver of the No. 36 Wellcare Ford who raced his way into the Daytona 500 here in Duel No. 1.
Congratulations on officially blocking in that spot for Sunday. Tell us a little bit about your emotions and how the race played out on the final laps for you.
ZANE SMITH: Yeah, my emotions are definitely weird, just how big this event is. You don’t realize it just coming until you’re making an attempt at it.
It’s been crazy, all the media, and just all the hype behind it.
Those Duels were a little nerve-racking, but I kind of just followed my teammate through there, and he was a huge, huge help. Big shout-out to him, all the Fords really. I felt like we really all worked together well.
That was really my game plan, to stick to whatever Michael does. Obviously he’s very successful on the superspeedways. Fortunately, our plan worked.
Q. Zane, last time I saw you in this room you were coming off of a win. This is also sort of a win in that you got into the race. Did that visit here last month help you at all, even though it was completely different?
ZANE SMITH: No, I mean, when I was here, even though it was in an IMSA car, it was still in a Ford Mustang, but a little bit more normal one. But no, winning is contagious as losing is.
It’s been really good since Phoenix on lately. Just trying to carry this momentum. This is a huge win for us, not only me, but all of FRM. Obviously they’ve shown their success on the superspeedways, but there were some really good open cars that we had to beat, and just really proud that we beat them.
Q. When you look at that open lineup and you knew that it was Jimmie and Pastrana and Conor Daly, what do you think your realistic chances are against that field?
ZANE SMITH: Well, rolling in, I didn’t expect us to honestly be the third fast he’s of the open qualifiers. This was my pretty much whole team is my truck group, and obviously they’re trying to prepare me a really fast F150 for Friday along with a Mustang that’s going against really big teams, including my teammates. The preparation that they had also has just been crazy.
Our goal was to make it into the race, and then you never know what’s going to happen in the Daytona 500.
We had a great new partner come on with us in we Wellcare and Ambetter, and I just wanted to start off this relationship right and prove them right on their choice and believing me, and we’re off to a good start.
Q. How come your car only says Zane?
ZANE SMITH: That’s something I’ve had as long as I can remember, my helmets from when I was three years old to everything I’ve always raced. My last name is pretty common but my first name is very odd, so typically you should know there’s not many Zanes out there, so you should know.
Q. Zane, I know this is a big moment for you. First time I believe in Daytona 500 history that we’re going to have the reigning Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Truck Series champion all in the field on Sunday afternoon. What does it say to have guys like you and Ty Gibbs coming up and breaking into the big show on Sunday afternoon, given the really relatively recent success you guys have had in the lower two divisions?
ZANE SMITH: Yeah, definitely when I heard that, I didn’t want to let everyone down because I was the only one that had to get in, obviously.
Happy we were able to get in, and we have a pretty good starting spot, honestly. I don’t know who I’ll share a row with yet, but excited to race this Wellcare Ford Mustang on Sunday.
THE MODERATOR: Zane, thank you for your time. Congratulations again on making it in on Sunday.