Charlotte Half-Mile: The Champ Takes The Checkers

 

Bryan Smith went into Charlotte Half-Mile looking for his first win of 2017. Well he got what he came for: a dominant win, 3.769 of a second over Jared Mees to close the points gap to eight points and get a little redemption for last year’s steel-shoe debacle.

“We kicked their ass, it’s pretty easy to write that quote,” Bryan said with a laugh. “Obviously you go to every race and you want to win but until you get out there you really don’t know what’s going to happen. All day I just felt really comfortable; kind of similar to how I felt in 2015. I felt like if I needed to go faster I could and it wasn’t like a big deal to go that little harder. Usually if you’re going for a win – or even if you’re not – on a 750 you’re going as hard as you can. So when somebody passes you and you got to go more usually it’s like your eyes get big and you get death grip, but today it just felt like: ‘Okay, Brad’s (Baker) right there. I’ll go a little bit more, work around, find a better line.’ I just felt really comfortable today. It was one of those days that don’t happen very often: where you just feel comfortable right out of the truck. I was definitely stoked on just having fun riding, not really having to work hard at anything. It just happened.”

And of course winning’s always fun, but it’s also critical for defending that number-one plate. So Bryan is happy to have the win and disrupt Mees’ momentum going into the five-week break before the Mile tracks.

“It’s bragging rights going into the break,” Bryan said. “It shut Jared (Mees) down from his helmet getting any bigger. Then obviously we get a break and then going to the miles, so it’s not like we had to wait until the miles to win. Seriously: I want to keep this number-one plate. It’s time to win. Like I said before, I feel like if I beat Jared I’m going for the win, or if I beat Jared I’m going for the championship. So I just got to keep beating him.”

Bryan Smith Looking For Another Charlotte Win

Before the third round of the American Flat Track Series at the Charlotte Half-Mile, there was a big production shoot for NBC Sports network at NASCAR’s photo studio in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina. In between the photo shoots and video takes, Bryan Smith had a chance to talk about The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway and his thought’s going into the Charlotte Half Mile.

“I like Charlotte. I like the track,” Bryan said about the facility. “I won it two years ago. I was in the hunt to win it last year until my steel shoe came off. So I’m excited. Since I’ve been racing we’ve always struggled with getting to a good track – a consistently good track – with a good facility. So it’s cool to come to Charlotte because you know the facility’s great. We’re in racing country out here in Charlotte. We know the track’s going to be good if not great.”

He also likes where he’s sitting in the championship, even being a bit behind in second.

“Yeah, where I’ve lost the championship has been consistency,” he said. “I finally won it last year being more consistent. This year defending it I’m going to need to be really consistent. We started off with a second and third. As much as you want to win all the races you just can’t. So two of my worst tracks looking at my personal record book, the first two races would be two of my worst race tracks for good finishes. So to get second and third is exactly what I need to do for another championship run, is be consistent. Thankfully we were able to do that with a second and a third.

That being said, Bryan wants to be more than consistent. He wants that win and he wants that win in Charlotte: “I want to win it again. Period!”

It’s not just about winning, it’s about some redemption after last year’s steel-shoe malfunction. So will he be bringing some extra screws? “Yeah, my steel shoes glued and screwed on,” he answered. “I’m going to have to rip my whole boot off.”