Terra Talks with Brandon Brown, Vol. 2

(Image: Brandonbilt Motorsports)

Brandon Brown is off to the hottest start of his NASCAR career. Sitting 12th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Driver Standings, Brown has brought home four top-10 finishes in the first eight races of the season.

For our spring, quarterly conversation we touched on some specific topics from the last four races. Additionally, he candidly discussed the current state and the potential future of his family-owned team, Brandonbilt Motorsports.

Settle in and prepare to enjoy a thoroughly entertaining conversation as Terra Talks with Brandon Brown.

Terra Jones: We’ll start with the Quarterly Question I have for the trio of drivers participating in this series. Now, I know the Xfinity Series doesn’t get to run the All-Star Race. But, if you did, what is something you’d like to see NASCAR try out, for real or for fun? 

Brandon Brown: It would be fun to see it as more of a doubleheader to really see who the true all-star is. If we ran it at Charlotte, we could run it one day Charlotte and one day Roval? That could be something where you’re picking out the true all-stars! Whoever has the best of both worlds – to me, that would be cool! 

Jones: I love that idea!

Brown: Or you could make it a three-day event! Put ‘em on the dirt track too! (laughs) Let’s get the true all-star. Let’s put the money where the mouth is. That would be kinda cool!

Jones: I really love that! Now, I want to help fans get to know your family-owned team, Brandonbilt Motorsports, a bit better. So to start, what was the push or the draw to go all-in on Xfinity as opposed to the Truck Series? 

Brown: Our push was more of a finance-driven deal. The cost of racing between Trucks and Xfinity was extremely similar, give or take a little bit more on the Xfinity side. But the payout – the purse – was just so much higher in Xfinity. It just seemed the better route to go. It felt like the TV numbers were doing better on the Xfinity side, which translates to sponsors and partners. So, that was kind of our push.

Jones: And looking long-term, is the plan to eventually move the organization to the Cup Series? Or elevate you to Cup and allow BMS to be a launching pad of sorts for up-and-coming drivers in Xfinity?

Brown: …Yup! (laughs) No, I honest-to-goodness think we’ll see how this new car works out for Cup. If the cost to run Cup significantly fell, then it would make a lot more sense to go ahead and make Brandonbilt Motorsports a Cup team. 

But, the problem with that is there are a lot of moving parts and pieces that you don’t really think about. Like, where we got the top-notch guys on our Xfinity pit crew, well, they’re already tied to a Cup team. So, we lose that. And when it comes to chassis and bodywork, you can’t lean on the Cup teams to give you great stuff, because they’re obviously going to give themselves the best stuff. 

It’s one of those things where there’s a lot of moving parts and pieces to it. But I think the goal would be to stay in Xfinity and grow into a championship Xfinity team. Then allow me to hitch myself to a Cup team, or if I have to stay Xfinity…the goal is not for Brandonbilt Motorsports to solely support Brandon Brown. It’s its own business entity, and its goal is to become a championship organization with or without me. 

If I can get some sponsorship and elevate this team, then, great! We’ll keep working together. If I can’t and somebody else does? Then it sounds like (laughs) I’m going to be finding a ride outside of us in the Xfinity Series! 

(Image: Daylon Barr/Daylon Barr Photography)

Jones: That makes sense. Thank you so much for sharing all of that. Now, being a single-car team, what is that like for you not to have a direct, organizational teammate to work with? And, is there an unofficial alliance with another team? 

Brown: (laughs) It makes it tough, for sure! 

Jones: I bet!

Brown: We are struggling when we show up to superspeedways because you’ll see that teams kinda-sorta have a game plan. The Kaulig cars always plan to get together, 1-2-3. They do it somewhere with 20 to go and start planning their move. The JR (Motorsports) cars do it. I think RCR kind of tags along with Kaulig since they have an official alliance. 

But, it’s us on our own. We’ll try to go tag the 51 (Jeremy Clements) or 39 (Ryan Sieg) or the 44 of Tommy Joe Martins. Just be like, “Hey guys! We’re all in the same boat. You want to go work together?” And, most of the time, they’re like, “No.” But, sometimes they will! (laughs)

Jones: You need to send lunch over to their shops before superspeedway races.

Brown: Yes! (laughs) I’ll send some Larry’s Lemonade and say, “Sorry I raced you hard! Um, do you want to be friends?”

Jones: There you go! Alright, I want to look at the four races since we last spoke. I will pull something from each to focus on. Let’s start with Phoenix. You walked away from that race with a career-best finish of P3. First of all, congratulations on that! 

Brown: Thank you!

Jones: Absolutely! So, it felt like, outside of restarts, the PJ1 decided the outcome of the race. I’m sure there are pros and cons, and they probably vary based on how you do at that particular track on that specific day. But, in general, what are your thoughts on NASCAR using the PJ1 at tracks? 

Brown: So, the PJ1 is a double-edged sword. It’s great if you have a car where your grip might be struggling. It gives you something to lean on. But, at the same time, it does the same for everyone else. It’s ‘who does their homework the best.’ They’re obviously going to thrive there. 

Personally, I like it when it brings a multiple-groove racetrack. But sometimes, it’s just making the fast groove, the PJ1 groove. Where, normally when you show up to a short track, you run high on the straightaways, low in the corners. Now they’re opening it up to make the top of the corner something to wind you up. Same as Phoenix, as with Bristol – it gives multi-groove racing, but usually, the track’s going to lean one way or the other. It just makes it a little more dicey on which way you’re gonna go. 

So, I like it. It’s just another thing to learn. When you’re running against the best of the best, it’s adapt or die. So, figure it out!

Jones: That’s right. Now, as for the Atlanta race (P33), there was a lot of discussion on the TV broadcast about your crew chief, Doug Randolph. They were discussing how he has worked with so many up-and-coming drivers. So, how has he been beneficial to you personally as a young driver?

Tough but intentional. Crew chief Doug Randolph makes sure the entire team is prepared, week in and week out. (Image: Brandonbilt Motorsports)

Brown: He’s the hard teacher that you need. Whenever he tells you that you need to do something, you’re like, “Ugggh. I would much rather do a thousand other things!” But he knows what he’s doing. There’s always a reason behind him having you do whatever you need to do. Whether that’s biking almost 40 miles, just to say, “Okay, mentally, this was the hardest thing I had to do this week. The race will be a cakewalk.” Or him, we’ll use the word ‘encouraging.’ Him encouraging you to do more homework – maybe focusing on data points from the last race, or did you watch last year’s race? He wants everyone to know what they need to do before they have to do it. 

So, if we’re going to go out and qualify, what are you going to do? When are you going to get up to the wall to wind up to speed? Are you going to turn down in the tri-oval? What’s your plan? He’s very good at putting you in those pressured situations throughout the week so when you get to the part of the week where it actually counts, then you’ve already made the decision and you can really give 100 percent. 

Jones: That’s really neat to hear. Listening to the scanner, we get to hear him talking you down when emotions get high, building you up, and keeping the end goal in front of you. So, it’s neat to hear both sides of that.

Brown: (laughs) He is definitely a big picture guy!

Jones: It’s good to have that! Next was Martinsville (P27). That is such a tough track in its own right, and then compound that with a part failure (sway bar) and a multi-day rain delay. I want to look at the mental aspect of things. For you personally, is it easier to head into the next race after a day like Martinsville, and say “Forget what happened. We’re going to rebound this weekend.” Or, is it easier after a day like Phoenix, with a ton of confidence that things are going in the right direction?

Brown: It’s definitely easier after Phoenix because you’re riding a little bit of a high, you’ve got a lot of confidence – you might miss something, but you make up for it with your confidence. But, coming off of Martinsville with a part failure, it doesn’t really take the wind out of your sails. It’s more, “Alright, we are human. Let’s get everything back in line.”

Brandon Brown battles through a tough track, a parts failure, and a multi-day rain delay at Martinsville. (Image: Brandonbilt Motorspots)

I don’t know if there’s necessarily an easier route, more than just…one makes you mind your P’s & Q’s a little harder on preparation, the other lets you walk around with your chest out. And who knows, it could show other teams that, “Oh man! That Brandon Brown kid must have something to win with!”

Jones: Exactly! And finally, Talladega (P7). You mentioned when we spoke at the beginning of the season that you had the Superspeedways circled because you have a “true shot to win” at those tracks. Knowing how your team is performing this year and what you are capable of, what did you learn during that race that you can carry over to the Fall, given the likely different conditions?

Brown: That I needed 25 more laps. (laughs) That rain! But, we learned a lot at Talladega. For me especially to learn how to work the aero in my benefit, to make sure I’m getting the runs, that I’m doing what I need to do behind the wheel to either pull other drivers back, keep myself locked into the lead pack, and how to really block and be aggressive without putting ourselves in some crazy situation where we might get our stuff tore up.

Brandon Brown had high hopes for Talladega. While the rain-shortened event didn’t bring the finish he wanted, the race provided ample opportunities for the young driver to learn and prepare for next time. (Image: Brandonbilt Motorsports)

And my theory worked! I said, “If we stay in the front, we’ll miss the big one and the wrecks will happen behind us.” And it worked. 

But, you learn a lot from that. Superspeedway racing, no matter the track temp, it’s such a crapshoot race. So many things happen that are out of your control. The only thing Doug can decide is four tires? Two tires? Just fuel? What? He’s not a huge fan of it, whereas it’s a giant game of chess to me and I love it. 

Jones: And, you learned to send Larry’s to the other family-owned teams.

Brown: That’s right! That’s right!

Jones: We’ll wrap up with one more not-so-serious one. We had the Bristol Dirt Race a few weeks back. But, the Xfinity Series was left out of the chaos and fun. Were you jealous or did you enjoy sitting back to watch? 

Brown: Well, I had run Eldora before in the Trucks. I was like, “Man! We do really good on dirt. That would be a great weekend for us! I don’t see why we wouldn’t go out there and show well.” So, I was excited thinking that we were going to run it. 

Then, I quickly learned that we weren’t. And I was like, “NO!” and Doug was like, “Yes!” (laughs) Very different perspectives! 

And the hauler drivers are like, “Yes!” You know, we’re garaged with Tyler Young and Young’s Motorsports, the 02, 12, and 20 in Trucks. And we watched them open their hauler doors and it was ew…ick. 

Now, I might have a little partialness to the Xfinity Series, but Xfinity is the best show that NASCAR’s got. That’s just my opinion. I only say that because we’re not an obnoxiously long race. It keeps your interest, on average, 200-250 laps. It’s enough time where people can watch and stay interested the whole time. And there’s something always happening. We have composite bodies, so it’s not one hit and done. Plus, you have a great mixture of veterans and rookies. And people like me with hot tempers, and people with really cool tempers. 

It’s such a mixed bag. Man, if you put us on dirt (whistles), that would be a show. 

Jones: Hopefully we can see that!

Brown: Give the people what they want! That’s what they want! They want drivers and the cars out there beatin’ and bangin’. They want us gettin’ after it! Now, personally, I don’t want to beat and bang, we don’t have a ton of body parts just laying around, but if they want to? Welcome to Brandon’s element! Welcome to the show. (laughs)

 

Thank you to Mac MacLeod and Brandonbilt Motorsports for allowing this interview to happen. And a huge thanks to Brandon for taking the time to talk in what was quite possibly the most entertaining interview I’ve ever conducted!

Terra Jones

As a life-long NASCAR fan and lover of words, I'm fortunate enough to put the two together here at The Podium Finish to bring our readers and motorsports fans news, features, and interviews from the world of wheels. Originally from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, I moved westward to graduate from Middle Tennessee State University. I now reside in central North Carolina with my husband, our three boys, and our dog, Charlotte. While my heart is at the race track, I also enjoy watching baseball, as well as college football and basketball. 

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