Brennan Poole Thriving with Chip Ganassi Racing

In any walk of life, there are often obstacles that confront us in our path towards glory.  There’s usually two options when encountering adversities – to either fold or take it head on.  Typically, taking the latter option is the way in which many inspirational stories have been told, whether it’s in the sporting world or even in the normal rat race.

Brennan Poole of The Woodlands, TX knows what it like to confront that obstacle in his path towards his thriving NASCAR career.  The 25-year-old racer’s career was in a somewhat uncertain state in late 2014 as he tried in earnest to find the right stock car home.

With some determination and belief, Poole’s career was bolstered by an opportunity to drive for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates’ NASCAR XFINITY program last year.  From there, this combination has built a solid foundation not only as contenders in this racing division but as as a future Cup hopeful.

Undoubtedly, this Texan shows remarkable maturity and poise in the racer’s seat like a pro quarterback reading the secondary, completing those spectacular passes that get the job done.  Sometimes, it’s not about making that Hail Mary pass but executing on the key plays that truly matter in the final score.

Poole has a great situation with crew chief Chad Norris atop the pit box for the No. 48 DC Solar Chevrolet Camaro’s race day efforts.  As with any successful NASCAR effort like Jeff Gordon and Ray Evernham, Dale Earnhardt and Kirk Shelmerdine, Dale Jarrett and Todd Parrott, or in this case, Poole and Norris, there’s a lot of respect and admiration with this duo.

As trite as it may seem, they’re likely to succeed on game shows like the Pyramid or even on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire…if they get either opportunity.

For now, their focus is on their race program and it’s on the right path towards long term success.  Ganassi was able to groom talents like Jamie McMurray and and Kyle Larson in the past 15 years.  Certainly, Poole could be his next stock car prospect who could make a big splash when he arrives in Cup in the near future.  Perhaps that’s why Poole is truly “Texas Tough!”

Gracious and confident with the Ganassi program, Poole finds himself in solid position to make the inaugural Chase for the NASCAR XFINITY Series title this fall as he sits eighth in the points standings as of press time.  Recently, we spoke with Poole about his season and his near winning moment at Talladega.

It’s safe to say that in time, Talladega won’t be the biggest moment of this young racer’s career.  At the same time, don’t expect Poole to be rapping his way to everlasting stardom either!  For now, let’s learn more about Poole here on The Podium Finish.

Rob Tiongson :  Let’s talk about your year thus far which has seen you log a third at Talladega along with eight overall top-10 finishes.  How would you evaluate your rookie season as you’re sitting eighth in the XFINITY point standings?

Poole finds the fast line around Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography)

Poole finds the fast line around Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography)

Brennan Poole :  I think it’s going really well.  We certainly have a lot of momentum.   We came off four top-10’s in a row in the spring.  We want to keep that going.  There are some really good tracks that I’ve had success at in the past in some other series.  To me, it’s really going good.  I feel like our whole team is motivated right now.  Everyone’s working really hard.  Everyone’s really excited to go to the racetrack every single week.

We’re right around the corner from winning.  When you have that, it’s huge confidence for everybody.  Everyone is trusting one another and we’re just all working really well together.  For me, to see all that and see how we’ve grown through these races this year, it’s been really awesome.  It’s shown with our results.  It’s really cool for me.  I’m glad to be a part of this team.

Even with all the stuff with DC Solar, they’re growing in our sport and doing a lot of cool stuff at the racetracks like they did at Charlotte.  They had 100 solar generators around the racetrack, which is really awesome to see all the stuff that our team is doing and what they’re doing as well.  It’s been an awesome year us so far, for sure.

RT :  It seems like you and crew chief Chad Norris are finding that rhythm on the track despite this being the first year that you’ve both worked together.  Would you say that you’re both perfecting your communication with each other during the race weekend with setting the car up to race day?

Poole expressed confidence with crew chief Chad Norris.

Poole expressed confidence with crew chief Chad Norris.

BP :  Chad and I get along really well.  We both believe in each other and we both trust each other.  When you have that kind of relationship with your crew chief, it usually turns into good results.  I feel like we’ve been able to do that.

We obviously want to win races and we just haven’t quite gotten there but we’re right around the corner from that.  I feel like our personalities are so similar and we get along so well and communicate well.

We understand each other when one’s saying something versus the other.  We just get each other.  Having that trust is huge.  It’s been a really special relationship.  I think when you have that with a crew chief and a driver, like I said, eventually, the results will come.  I’ve been happy with everything.  It’s really been a lot of fun working with Chad.

We’ve had a blast this year.  I believe when we get to Victory Lane, we’re going to be having even more fun.  We’re going to keep working at it.  It’s been good so I’m happy with that.

RT :  Part of being successful in NASCAR is how to handle diversity.  I have to say that I was impressed with how you handled what happened at Talladega.

While it wasn’t easy, was it a situation where you took comfort in knowing that your 48 team’s strong enough to contend for race wins?

Poole's near winning moment at Talladega will not be this young Texan's lone highlight of 2016. (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography)

Poole’s near winning moment at Talladega will not be this young Texan’s lone highlight of 2016. (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography)

BP :  Yea, I feel really good about it.  Talladega was certainly an awesome confidence booster for me as a driver to know that I can do this.  I can win races at this level.  We had a couple of weeks back-to-back, like at Richmond, where we were leading with 18 laps to go and we were in the position to win the Dash 4 Cash and maybe steal a race.

We’ve been able to put ourselves in that position and really, as a racecar driver, that’s all I can ask for from my team…to be able to be in a position to win races.  I feel like together, as a group, we’ve been able to do that a few times this year.

At Charlotte, we had a really good car and we ran in the top-five until that green-white-checkered situation.  We’re right there.  I feel like, right now, we all have this confidence that we can get it done.

It’s just really cool to be a part of this team because we’re all so motivated.  We’re all working extremely hard.  And we all believe in each other.  I feel like we have everything in the right place for success right now.

Now, we just need to go and close it out.  I’m certainly feeling good about the next few weeks and I feel like we can win some races this year.  It’s just an awesome feeling.

I’m super grateful for everything and for all the stuff that DC Solar does for me and this race team to have this opportunity and run for the championship and race wins.  It’s really cool.  I don’t have a whole lot of words for that other than it’s just great.

RT :  This is the first year of the Chase system in the XFINITY Series and you’re in good position so far to be a part of the inaugural playoff field.  As the year progresses, how do you feel about your chances of being a part of the championship mix with your 48 team?

BP :  I feel like Charlotte was a good weekend for us.  I feel like if we can perform like we did at Charlotte, we’re going to be really tough.  It came down to two laps to go.  We were sitting fifth and we were the first XFINITY Series regular.  If we can do that and continue to put ourselves in that position to make the Chase, which is what we’re working on every weekend right now, we’re going to be extremely tough.

We’re working really hard at it.  We’re really close to being where we want to be on a consistent basis as far as having fast racecars and being able to put ourselves in that position to win races and be that highest finishing XFINITY regular.  I’m happy with how things are going.

The amount of work, my guys work so hard and keeping on working…they don’t give up and they fight till the end.  I’m really impressed to be a part of a group of guys like this and it’ll pay dividends when we get into the Chase.  To have that kind of that attitude, it’ll make us tough to deal with.

RT :  As one of the promising young racers in our sport, what’s your take on the state of NASCAR XFINITY Series racing?  Is it heading back to being a series that’s proving grounds for the rising stars to earn their way up to Cup or could more be done?

The unmistakable No. 48 Chevy Camaro has been a constant top-10 contender all season long. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson)

The unmistakable No. 48 Chevy Camaro has been a constant top-10 contender all season long. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson)

BP :  I think right now, it’s pretty amazing.  We’re looking at the next generation of racers to move into the Cup series.  All of us young guys are going to be there.  When I look at the guys that are in this field, it’s an incredible group like Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Bubba Wallace, Ryan Reed, Brandon Jones, and Ty Dillon…what an incredible group of guys who’ve had such great careers.  We’re all tough and we’ve all won big races.  We’re battling each other every single week and it puts on one heck of a show.

I’m really looking forward to racing with all of those guys in the Cup series in the future.  I feel like we’re all headed in that direction.  I’m just excited for the future of our sport.  I feel like it’s got quite a lot of potential with all of the young guys coming through the XFINTIY Series.  Even when you look at the Truck Series, there’s extremely talented young guys who are coming up as well and they’ll be the next wave of drivers coming to the XFINTY Series.

It’s really cool.  I’m really grateful to be a part of that group.  It was my dream, my whole life, to be able to have this opportunity and race in XFINITY and in NASCAR and maybe have that opportunity to make it to the Sprint Cup level.  I’m just going to keep working and keep laying everything out on the line every single week.  I feel like we’ll get there.

Like I said, it’s just really cool to be a part of this group of young guys who are so talented.  It’s just incredible.  I never thought in a million years that I would be in this group.  It’s pretty special and I’m grateful.

I’m just thankful for all of the opportunities that I’ve had.  Thank you to Chip Ganassi Racing and DC Solar for giving me the opportunity to do this.

RT :  Absolutely and speaking of young drivers, you’ve got a great young teammate with Kyle Larson who sometimes does the XFINITY races with the 42 team.  What’s it like to work with him as far as getting advice and having that rapport with both of you being young racers?

BP :  Kyle’s awesome.  We get along really well.  It’s been cool to build on our friendship as teammates over the past couple of years.  He’s just so incredibly talented that it’s unbelievable.  He’s just so talented.  As far as giving me pointers at the racetrack and things about our racecars, it’s really awesome.  To have that perspective from another young guy like myself, it’s really cool.  I think it’s another special relationship within the team.  He’s helped me a bunch.  He’s certainly helped with the learning curve in a lot of areas.

I’m grateful to be a part of this group.  Jamie McMurray’s an awesome guy.  He’s helped me a bunch last year and he’s certainly stepped my game up on areas of racing that I may have not necessarily been strong at.

RT :  What would be a few surprising facets about yourself that a lot of race fans may not know about you?

Poole....the racer and rapper?

Poole….the racer and rapper?

BP :  I feel like I’m pretty open with a lot of the fans on social media.  Everyone knows I’m big into surfing and skateboarding.  I do play the guitar and sing some songs.  I like to goof off and play some music as it helps me to relax.  I think that not a lot of fans may not know that about me being a musician.  I like to sing, rap, and goof off.  A lot of people may not expect that from me.

I like to throw some rap lyrics out there and play my guitar and sing some songs.  I might sing Nirvana and some old rock and roll or alternative like Staind.  I like rap music and I play it in my car on the way to the shop. (laughs) Everything else, I’m pretty open about.  I share a lot of stuff on social media about what I’m doing and how I’m really into surfing.  I love basketball.  I don’t know about singing for anybody.  I like to keep that to myself.  (laughs)

RT :  I was going to ask, is there a chance that we’ll see a Brennan Poole music video coming soon one of these days?

BP :  I don’t know if I would put any of it out there. (laughs) I want to do a series about what goes on in a driver’s life on a weekly basis but maybe out that part out.  (laughs)

RT :  You never know!  You might have a Kyle Petty situation but maybe a bit better than his!

BP :  There’s probably going to be a lot of people telling me to keep my day job! (laughs)

RT :  As long as you don’t do the Yanni look….but don’t tell him I said that!  Now I have to say, you’re an inspiration to a lot of those who are chasing their dreams in racing, especially for those who have worked hard but feel like they’re running in neutral for too long.

Having been an uncertain situation before that momentous break arrived around late 2014-early ’15, what would you say to an aspiring racer or writer who’s looking for that bit of encouragement with their motorsports dreams?

A win seems to be right around the corner for Poole and his No. 42 team. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson)

A win seems to be right around the corner for Poole and his No. 48 team. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson)

BP :  You can’t give up.  You have to keep trying and you have to have faith.  I believe that this is what God wants me to do.  I kept working at it and kept doing everything I could do to stay in the sport.  I believed that something would happen.  I tried everything.  I worked different angles.  I tried to get into start and park cars.  I tried to do everything I could stay relevant in this sport.  I’ve been able to form great relationships and have great experiences and I was able to win a lot of races that ultimately got me the opportunity.

Even during the time when I didn’t know if I would race again and I was racing basically week to week…I only ran seven races that year and the year before that, I only ran four races.  I just believed and I kept working.  It takes everything in order for your dreams to come true.  You have to give it everything.  As long as you work hard and believe in that faith and you give it absolutely everything, your dreams will be realized.

Author’s Notes :  Our special thanks goes to Brennan Poole and the kind folks at Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates for this awesome opportunity to present this feature here on TPF!  Photos accompanying this article are courtesy of Action Sports Photography (as well as with the featured image) and Jeremy Thompson, whereas noted.  

If you’d like to learn more about Brennan, “Like” his Facebook page, “Follow” him on Twitter, “Visit” his official website, and “Follow” out his Instagram now!

Rob Tiongson

30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field, and hockey. Born and raised in the Boston, MA area, racing was the first sport that caught my eye. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it’s about anything with an engine and four wheels, you’ll likely see an article on The Podium Finish by either myself or one of my talented columnists who absolutely have the motorsports passion.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. I enjoy editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography.

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.

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