Not looking to rush his way up the ladder, Owen Zacharias wants seat time in more experience in his Bandolero in 2023. In this week’s “In the Pits,” you’ll learn why Owen had to have 42 stitches in his hand, who he thinks will have beef in the NASCAR Cup Series this season, and what he likes to race when he is on iRacing!

Hometown: Harrisburg, NC
Division: Outlaw
Car Number: 35
Team: AK Performance
Favorite Vacation Spot: The Racetrack
Favorite Color: Red
Favorite Movie: Talladega Nights
Favorite Food: Pasta

1. What sparked your interest in racing? What made you want to start driving?

My parents. My father, he's a fifth-generation racer. So, 70, 80 years ago they got into racing, I don't know what kind. That sparked the racing career of my family. My dad raced modifieds back in the 80s-90s. He raced up in New York. After he was done with that, he had an opportunity to get in Cup, but he had a family to care for. He got into tire carrying for NASCAR. He raced with Petty. I now race with AK performance, we’ve been good friends since Myrtle Beach Speedway. My dad was the general manager there. About 2 years ago, I got into a Bando at Florence Motor Speedway. I want to start racing dirt, but I am not sure. We might be in a Legend on and off in the next year or two, I still need some experience in a Bando.

2. What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in the racing world?

Eight months ago, I broke all my knuckles, I had 42 stitches in my hand. I flipped a 4-wheeler. I had to race with one hand, I won a championship with one hand too. I used an old fire suit, and I cut it. My fire suit now, the elastic was too tight to fit into my cast. So, I took my old suit and cut it, and we stuck my cast through. I had one hand in the cast next to my side and I had to drive with my right hand. I won the championship that way at Florence Motor Speedway.

3. What is your favorite racing memory?

My first summer shootout in 2021, it was really fun. My best finish was third, my worst finish was last because I got wrecked a couple times. The times I had, the friends I made, a lot of fun.

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

Seat time, I need a lot more seat time. Just get better, maybe race a Legend at some time. I need to get up with these guys, they’ve raced a year or two longer than I have, they have a lot more experience. I just need to get more seat time so I can get up to them, get up to their level. [I am looking forward to] Florence Motor Speedway, and the Summer Shootout. I race just North Carolina and South Carolina, sometimes Florida.

5. Who is your biggest inspiration?

My father. He's the one who started the racing for me. He's the one who drove me everywhere, he's the one who paid for everything. He's definitely my biggest inspiration. He helps me with everything: what times I’m running, where I’m running, how I’m running, anything that needs to be fixed.

6. If you were pulled into victory lane right now, who would you want to thank?

I would thank my whole team, and everything they do for me. I would talk about my friend, Terry Evans, he passed away in 2017. He got T-boned coming home from the racetrack. His car number was 35, that's actually where I get my car number from. He raced late models and trucks. He was my dad’s friend, but we were good friends. I would talk about my dad, my family, the racecar and how it was.

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

I feel like this is what everyone does, but I try to hydrate a week before the race. I don’t like fall out of the seat or get tired. I kind of just stare at myself in the mirror and tell myself to do good, just talk to myself.

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

I iRace a lot, Legends. I like road courses. I race a lot of road courses on iRacing. I play baseball, I hang with friends a lot.

9. What are your favorite tracks to race at?

Charlotte Motor Speedway – I’ve raced almost half my races there. I race mostly at Florence Motor Speedway, because I’m about an hour and a half from there. But Charlotte, definitely.

10. Do you have any advice to younger kids who are looking into getting started in racing?

You don’t want to go into a big car first, start off small and work your way up. Don’t buy expensive gear, expensive cars, expensive everything. Work yourself up from there. I would say you can go into a Bando first, but people do go karts, too. I would say smaller cars.

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

Hard, hard racing, hard battles. I would say I’m aggressive but I still want to keep it clean and not wreck anyone, not get into any fights with people. I want to try to stay clean so we can talk to each other, make friends.

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

Terry, I’d like to have a conversation with him. Tell him thank you for letting me have this opportunity. He has helped me a lot.

13. Do you have any hidden talents?

Actually, this is a weird one, I’m really good at pogo sticks. I have a pogo stick at home [and] I got it for my birthday. My aunt gave it to me. I was like it's really easy to get the hang of it.

14. Who is your favorite NASCAR driver? What NASCAR tracks are you most looking forward to?

I may get a little hate for this, but I like Chase Elliott. I’ve just liked him for the past six years. I like big tracks, maybe Daytona. And Martinsville, that's definitely my favorite. My dad raced at Martinsville in a late model.

15. Who is going to be a standout in NASCAR this year?

Noah Gragson, I think he's going to do really good. He was really good in Xfinity. Obviously, it's a higher level but I think he's going to do really good though. There's definitely going to be a lot of beef [with Gragson and Ty Gibbs].

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