After a solid season in the Camping World Truck Series, Brandon Brown is set to make the next step in the career as he will run a partial XFINITY Series schedule in 2017.
“I think that it’s going to be fun,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “I’m really looking forward to it, actually. It’s going to be a pretty difficult step, especially this year with a lot of Cup teams actually starting their own XFINITY programs or expanding on them. A lot of good talent out of the truck series is coming up to this level, so it’s going to be interesting for sure. I’m very much looking forward to it. I think it’ll be a fun challenge, and set the platform for it to be much sweeter to have success.”
Currently, the schedule for Brown and Brandonbilt Motorsports consists of Atlanta Motor Speedway (March 4), Richmond International Raceway (April 29), Dover International Speedway (June 3), Pocono Raceway (June 10), Kentucky Speedway (July 7), Bristol Motor Speedway (Aug. 18), Richmond (Sept. 8), Kentucky (Sept. 23), Charlotte Motor Speedway (Oct. 6) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 18). Out of the races he is set to run this year, he states he’s most looking forward to getting to Dover due to the short track feel and the fact it’s more about the driver versus the equipment.
There is also the possibility of adding the XFINITY Series season opener at Daytona to the schedule, but Brown admits they’re “on the fence about it” in waiting to see if their speedway car will be ready.
“With a lot of these cup teams that are moving up, it’s not as easy,” he said. “A lot of these builders have decided they’re going to cater towards the cup teams a little more, so it makes it harder for us to find decent cars that won’t put us out of the sport, money-wise. I’m still in the same spot. I’ll know definitely sometime early next week or next weekend.”
Brown made his XFINITY Series debut last year, posting 29th place finish at Richmond International Speedway. He then followed it up a 25th at Kansas Speedway and 31st at Talladega Superspeedway. Brown says he learned a lot during those limited starts, enjoying the XFINITY Series driving style wise as they put it back into the driver’s hand, versus being very aero-dependent as the trucks are.
“I did learn that the competition in the XFINITY Series, though very comparable to the truck series, the way the guys race in the top-five in the truck series is how the XFINITY Series from first to 20th,” he said. “Minimum mistakes if any, all the teams are on top of their games, so it shows we have to be as well. Going to Richmond, just learning how these guys handle their driving style and how these guys race each other and respect for each other, it was a lot to take in during a weekend but super beneficial.”
This past season in the truck series, Brown entered 13 races, posting five top-20 finishes, including a fourth-place finish in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.
“Racing in the truck series is as competitive as it ever has been because of a lot of big young talent, and big funded teams in there,” he said. “It was pretty tight racing all the way through. It didn’t matter where we were; you had to earn your positions. I think there was a lot of finishes that we had that I was disappointed in because I really feel my team performed better than the finish. Like I said, we have to minimize on our mistakes. There were a lot of races where we had to deal with mechanical issues – radio failure, battery failure – and you have to come down pit road and change a battery, it takes some time. I lost two or three laps at Bristol because we lost the battery.”
With those thoughts in mind, Brown is keeping the goals in check going into this year. He says they’re looking to minimize mistakes while focusing on communication.
“I feel our program is very strong and people know easily we’re a top-20, top-15 car,” Brown said. “If we could just get rid of those few mechanical mistakes that cost us a lap through the race, I feel we can have even stronger results.”
Despite the change in series, there will be familiarity around Brown with crew chief Adam Brenner returning for another year, along with a bunch of the crew members.
“It’s very beneficial in many ways,” he said. “There’s some downsides, but there’s more positives that’ll help it work. Being familiar with Adam and working with him – he knows my style, I know his and we know how to communicate to each other. In situations that are stressful, we know how to figure it out in a very efficient way. So working with him as a crew chief – he’s a very good leader – it’s very helpful to have a familiar face when things get a little harder, or you know stress comes about, or when it gets to the stressful part of the weekend in just trying qualifying to race.”
With the XFINITY Series schedule in place, Brown isn’t set to leave the Truck Series totally behind yet, though, as he will run four truck events this year – Martinsville Speedway (April 1), Charlotte (May 19), Eldora Speedway (July 19) and Martinsville (Oct. 28).
“I’m really excited for that,” Brown said. “I think it’ll be very good for us because the truck races that they’re planning on are all tracks that I enjoy, especially Martinsville. I’ve never had any luck there; I’ve always had a black cloud over me for some reason. But it seems to be one of the tracks I enjoy, want to have success at – but it’s been an adventure each there. I’m excited for those as I don’t think the competition has backed down. I think it’s just new names to fill the numbers, but still, there will be strong teams to compete against.
“I’m excited to race against Myatt Snider. I saw that he’s moving up. I used to race against him in late models, and he was always a driver I respected and always clean and fun to race against, very competitive. So I’m very excited for that, and I really feel with all the things that we took from last year and learned, we’ll be able to run well in the truck series.”
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