The 2022 INEX Road Course Pro Division champion, Landen Lewis, sat down for this week’s installment of “In the Pits.” Lewis is a fourth-generation racecar driver and is once again back for another shot at all three Pro Division INEX championships in 2023. He will be doing this as he works to drive in the ARCA Menards Series and hopes to compete in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series before the year is over.

Hometown: Ocean Isle Beach, NC
Division: Pro
Car Number: 99
Team: Joe Ryan Racecars   
Favorite Vacation Spot: The Bahamas
Favorite Color: Blue and Orange
Favorite TV Show: Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy
Favorite Movie: Days of Thunder
Favorite Food: Italian, Alfredo or Vodka Sauce if you're feeling fancy

1. What forms of racing have you competed in?

I did dirt go-karts from four to about eleven. I then did dirt modifieds for Ron Hornaday, and I still do that. I then jumped into the Legend Cars. Now, I do ARCA. I ran ARCA in 2021 and ended up winning my second race at DuQuoin [State Fairgrounds]. We got the win on dirt and I did about half a season with Bill McAnally Racing.

2. What is your favorite racing memory?

I have a lot. My favorite, which I talked about in my interview for the INEX banquet, was showing up to the track (New Hampshire Motor Speedway) with no sleep. Barely catching my flight, I didn’t think I was going to make it to the track and I ended up winning my heat race and winning the feature. That was probably my biggest thing because I did have less practice than anyone, so it felt really special for me to win that race. There’s probably a couple more, like the Summer Shootout. I tried winning at that track for like four years and I could just never do it. I finished second all the time. This past year, Joe was always like, ‘You’re gonna race’ and I said, ‘No, I don’t want to race here. I just hate that track.’ And [Joe] was like, ‘No, you’re gonna race; we’re gonna win the championship this year.’ We ended up winning 3 races and the championship. That was probably the biggest moment, the Summer Shootout, conquering that first win. Everything has to go your way in that series, the cards have to line up perfectly.

3. What are your 2023 racing goals? What do you hope to achieve?

Probably get a couple [of] truck races, and obviously do ARCA. Then there’s two championships on my bucket list this year that I haven’t won. It would be Winter Nationals. I’ve finished second three years in a row. I started racing Legend Cars four years ago, and my first race was Winter Nationals. I finished second in the championship that year. I skipped the next year, and then went back and finished second again. Last year I finished second by one point. Every time it’s been by two or three points – every time. This year I want to win. It's a must, and Nashville, the Spring Series.

4. What is your ultimate racing dream?

Make it to the highest level of NASCAR. A realistic goal would be to make it in any of the top 3 series and have a full-time ride would probably be my end goal. The big, big goal is to make it to Cup and have a full-time ride. I will have a career in some kind of racing. My favorite thing to do is driver coach younger kids. Kind of push the younger generation and help them out. Teaching kids the little things that I’ve learned and trying to speed their process up. I went out to Charlotte and helped a whole bunch of little kids with Bandos. I don’t have a whole lot of experience, I’ve never raced one, but I can help in the little ways.

5. Who is your biggest inspiration?

Ron Hornaday. He has been my mentor and someone I look up to. He’s just a diehard racer. He works, just like I do, you know, go in the shop every day, work, then go race on the weekends. He came from no money. That’s a big thing because NASCAR nowadays is a lot of money involved.

6. Do you have any pre-race “rituals” or things you always have to do on race day?

There’re a couple little different things. There’s probably some I wouldn’t want to say. It isn’t bad but top-secret stuff. Everyone says green is a bad thing, and peanuts and stuff like that. But I have green socks that I wear. I actually have a pair of socks that have a big hole in them, but for some reason every time I wear them I win. It’s just a whole bunch of little stuff that people say, ‘Oh, that’s not true,’ but it works for me.

7. Outside of racing, what do you like to do in your free time?

The free time comes very limited. Just working every day at Joe Ryan Racecars, helping them out. But in my free time, when I do get it, I like to go home. Like Christmas Break or Thanksgiving, I might do a little hunting. I like the outdoors a lot. Then probably just hanging out with everyone at the shop. It’s really fun, going to dinner and stuff like that. With that group, you never know what’s going to come next. You stay on your toes all the time.

8. What race or track are you most looking forward to this season?

Citrus [County Speedway] probably. I want to win the championship really, really bad. Probably Nationals again. I want to go to the Bullring. I raced there before one year at nationals. I was leading on the last lap, got moved out of the way, and ended up finishing fourth. So, I really want to go back there and win. I won last year when we went out there and tested for Asphalt Nationals. But I was racing in Phoenix the same weekend, so I wasn’t able to come. If I get to do all three nationals, Vegas and New Hampshire, again. I love road racing. It’s so much fun. I don’t have a background of road racing, so it’s different I guess. That’s why I am so interested in it because it’s like something new for me.

9. Do you have any advice for younger kids looking to get started in racing?

Just keep focused, never let up on your dreams because there’s a lot of people out there who will try to bring you down or crush you. I would always tell anyone to pursue their dreams. Just keep pushing until you can’t push anymore. That is something that I live by every time I show up to the track. It’s 'no one is better than me.' Not in a cocky way, but that’s how I go about my day at the track. I would tell all the younger kids to just keep pushing. There’s never an end to your journey.

10. If you could describe your racing style in one word, what would you say?

I would probably say aggressive. There are a lot of people who say I’m really, really aggressive but it’s more of an aggressive style. But you have to be smart while doing it. Sometimes it can hurt you. Sometimes it can help you. But that’s something I’ve learned in the last few years, you can be aggressive but you also have to be smart with it. Some people don’t like me because of the way I drive, but that’s just how I race and that’s how I will continue to race.

11. If you could have a conversation with anyone, who would it be and why?

Dale Earnhardt Sr. just because of all the stories he has. Just so many memories about what racing used to be back in the day. It was so cool, hopefully it gets back to that point. Learning so much stuff from him, all the little tricks he has up his sleeves that helped him beat a lot of people.

12. What is something many people don’t know about you?

Most people are surprised I don’t live with my parents. I moved up here when I was like 14 [or] 15. I go home probably every two to three months. I work in the shop, go to work every day, and work on the equipment.

13. How was testing ARCA at Daytona different from anything else you’ve done?

When I went out there, I was pretty nervous. I was supposed to be testing on the second day. Well, my crew chief (Bruce Cook), the guy who owns the car, was like ‘Hey, let's go get in the car.’ I was like, ‘I am supposed to go tomorrow,’ and he was like, ‘Yeah, we’re going now.’ Once I got on pit road, and I knew I was going on the track, I was like, ‘ok, this is actually happening. Landen snap out of it.’ But it was cool getting on the track, with the high banks and stuff. You get in the corner and it just sucks you down into the seat. It was definitely a lot faster, and the air was a lot different with how it worked. I tested to get the experience, to learn to draft, and stuff like that. I am working on developing my craft. I keep learning every day. Learning how to perfect passes and stuff like that. Things I already know how to do, but could still get better.

14. Who will win the Daytona 500?

I think Kevin Harvick. I think he's got it in him honestly. This is his last year, and he's going to be pretty aggressive to get that final win.

15. Who is your favorite NASCAR driver?

Kevin. Harvick because, he has mentored me, too. Just being around him and Keelan (Harvick). Keelan is really, really cool. Kevin, just like Ron, is diehard, [came] from no money but worked his way to the top. He is really big in NASCAR; everyone looks up to him because of what he's done for the sport. He's trying to bring short-track racing back with the Cars Tour and trying to build the Legend Car stuff. I really give props to him for everything he’s done.