Brown Drinks Up Victory at Dega

Drink in the sweet taste of victory! (Image: Daylon Barr | Barr Visuals)

The first win is often hard to come by. But how sweet it is when it happens. The driver of the No. 68 Brandonbilt Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro would likely agree with both sentiments.

As Brandon Brown wraps up his sixth NASCAR Xfinity Series season, that first win came at Talladega Superspeedway, a track he has noted as an opportunity for teams like his. Brown had been pushed to the front of the pack by Jordan Anderson, and shortly after, the caution flew. As darkness descended upon the 2.66-mile track, Brown had likely never been so happy to see nighttime.

I had the opportunity to speak with Brown and reflect on this first win, of hopefully many, for the young driver and his family-owned team.

Team work makes the dream work. (Image: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

Terra Jones: Obviously, this win was huge for you and Brandonbilt Motorsports. But I want to look back at the last stretch of races leading up to this weekend. You battled power steering issues at Richmond, engine issues at Darlington, and fuel cell issues at Daytona. You had DNFs at Michigan and the Indy Road Course. Then, you lost your rearview mirror at Bristol. It’s just been one thing after another over the past few races. How satisfying and redeeming was the timing of this win after weeks of mechanical issues and the frustration that stems from all that?

Brandon Brown: This win did so much for us. We really grouped together as a team and said, “Okay guys. If this has to be the “Sophomore Slump,” then fine. We had a lot of good luck last year heading into the playoffs.” 

But, it’s just kind of the way of racing, the way of motorsports. They’re mechanical cars, so things are gonna break and you’re gonna have to replace parts. It’s always a bummer. It’s one of those things that happens as a small team when you don’t have people that are constantly checking in on different parts and pieces of the car, to make sure everything’s perfect. Those things happen and it does get you down for sure. 

With this win, it’s like a gust of wind in the sails! What a huge piece for us. We were honestly worried about if we kept doing this. Partners want cars that finish and drivers that deliver, so it felt really, really, really good to be able to deliver that one.

With issue after issue plaguing the No. 68 team stayed the course and rallied as a team. (Image: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Jones: Now I hate to put you back on those seemingly endless caution laps at the end of the race, but there was some uncertainty over who was in the lead when the caution came out – whether it was you or Brandon Jones. Were you aware of everything that was being discussed? Or was that completely off your radar? 

Brown: They let us know and me, Brandon Jones, and Allgaier ran three-wide behind the pace car for a couple of laps. That was like saying, in our driver’s way, “No, it’s me. No, it’s me!” And I was ready to pass the pace car! They [NASCAR] were saying, “We’re going off the last scoring loop and we’re gonna make the judgment call off of that, we’ll let you know.” 

At that point, I’m like, “Oh, man, please let us be in the lead. Please, please, please. Because that would make things so much easier.” And then they radioed over, “68, 19, 7.” And I was like, “WOOOO! Now it’s dark!” Then, I kept peeking my head around to try and see the front of the pace car, because I know that Camaro has automatic lights on it and I’m waiting for those headlights to cut on so I can be like, “There’s your answer!” 

And then, they were asking me what it’s like. The team asked me, “Do you think you’ll be able to go back racing?” And I was like, “I will be super surprised if we do.” And they asked why? And I said, “Well, because there are racecars out here that are black and blue and not dayglow yellow like Brandon Jones’ car, so it’s gonna be really hard to see.” 

It was one of those things where I looked down the backstretch and it was so hard to see turn three. I don’t know if it was from the light pollution of all the safety trucks, but to me, you could tell it was there because there’s just this big mound of asphalt, like shadow black, that you can see is going to be the turn. But if something is there, something on the track, we’re not going to be able to see it. You’re just going to hope that everything stays clear. 

Then they were radioing in like, “Alright, thumbs up if it’s light enough to race. Thumbs down if it’s dark.” Then they couldn’t see my glove and I was like, “Okay, maybe I need to go get some brighter gloves!” (laughs)

Brandon Brown has become an underdog, fan-favorite in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. (Image: Landen Ciardullo | The Podium Finish)

Jones: Too funny! So obviously it was a stressful few minutes there. How did you mentally keep focused on the task at hand, not knowing if and when they were going to call it or if you were going to have to race a few more laps?

Brown: Doug Randolph got on the radio and reminded us, “Hey, there’s a chance for going back green. Make sure that you have all your switches in the right space. That you know what you need to do when it comes down to it. Know who you need to work with, make sure that you work on keeping whoever’s behind you on your bumper.” All that. We were just kind of preparing for making a last dash to the end. So it was running through that game plan that kept us mentally busy. And so I wasn’t just constantly circling, and saying, “Please be dark.”

Jones: That takes a certain kind of patience! Now, there are some fans of the sport that react differently to certain wins. So I want to hear your thoughts because you checked two boxes in one win. What do you say to those that think anyone can win at superspeedways and it’s not a “real” win? And what about to those that want to put an asterisk next to rain, light, or fog-shortened races?

Brown: It’s hard to translate that. It’s the same thing that when you see people complain about quarterbacks in the NFL and that they could have made that throw. It’s like, “Well, then you go do it.” If you think it’s so easy to win on a superspeedway, then just go do it. I’ll support you, or race against you! 

But it’s one of those things – superspeedway racing is not easy, by any means. Is it an equalizer? Yeah, it is. There’s not one chassis group or one engine group that’s gonna run away from another. It just brings the field together. It’s not that it brings the difficulty down. 

Superspeedway racing is a beast of its own. Brandon Brown said it best, “There’s nothing easy about it, to be honest with you. I’d just say it’s more equal.” (Image: Jonathan Huff | The Podium Finish)

You could argue in the case of the bigger teams that it makes the difficulty greater because now you don’t have such an advantage. So it depends on who you talk to and who you ask if it’s easier or harder to race a superspeedway. 

True, there’s not as much hand motion going on as you would see when we run a road course. But it’s more mentally pressing, more mentally stressful because inevitably, somebody is going to misjudge, somebody’s going to mistime, somebody is going to make contact the wrong way on your rear bumper, or you might do it on their rear bumper, or they do it to somebody in front of you, and then a wreck happens. And it’s just the constant mental stress of this could happen. 

There’s nothing easy about it, to be honest with you. I’d just say it’s more equal. 

And, people say we only won because it was shortened? Sure! But I’ve put myself in the position to be there. So it doesn’t matter. People are always gonna have their opinions and it’s something that I’ve kind of grown to accept. No matter what you do, no matter what race you win, there’s always a reason that you won and somebody else didn’t. Everybody can make excuses. 

I don’t really ever go out and plan to appease everybody and go about that way. At the end of the day, I’m going to pull up Racing Reference and next to Brandon Brown’s win column, there’s gonna be a one.

Jones: That’s right! And hopefully more soon! Let’s talk a minute about that moment in victory lane. You climbed out of your car, you had a can of Larry’s Lemonade in hand, then you opened it with your teeth. Is there anything else you open with your teeth that fans should know about?

Brown: (laughs) Oh, man! Brandon Brown After Dark! No, just my beer cans. Just my beers.

Jones: (laughs) Ok, noted! But seriously, had you put much thought into what the celebration would look like when it finally came? Or was it just completely spontaneous?

Brown: Oh, it was pretty spontaneous. I was just focusing on not stalling out the car. (laughs) That would be embarrassing! Like I said, I’ve done plenty of burnouts when I was in college. It was fun! But in a parking lot and then I ran away. (laughs) But, it was just one of those things that was so exciting. And it was something where you do it as a kid on video games, like, “This is the moment that I want to live for. I want to do the burnout!” 

And it was just really cool to be able to do the baseball swing! It’s kind of a shot back at my buddy Adam Eaton, because he and Howie Kendrick, when they played on the Washington Nationals, were famous for every time they got a home run they would sit down and act like they’re driving a car, like shifting with a baseball bat. Just a little shot back, you know, baseball swing, knock it out of the park. 

So I guess I’ll just use that as my thing. I don’t think anybody else does it! So yeah, if anybody else does a baseball swing, they’re really just saying, “Let’s go, Brandon!” (laughs)

(Image: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Jones: (laughs) That is perfect! All right. Just a couple more for you. In addition to driving the No. 68, you also work on the business side of Brandonbilt Motorsports, correct?

Brown: Yep! I do a lot on the marketing side. 

Jones: That’s what I thought I just wanted to make sure. So it’s been mentioned, you have secured primary sponsorship through the remainder of the season. Looking at this win, from a business perspective, short and long term. What does it do for a smaller family-owned team like yours?

Brown: Well, it validates all the work that we put in. It validates all the money spent, all the hours that we put in. Then growing up, it validates missing proms and homecomings, birthday parties, slumber parties, weddings. Everything is kind of validated for us, which is great. 

And then on the business side of things. Now, we’re a proven, winning organization. We can now bring that to the table when we’re doing our sponsorship content. And that’s what it takes to make it in the sport. As you know, companies want to partner with teams that win and teams that perform because those teams get TV time and interview time and they [the partners] get a return. 

Brandon Brown goes the extra mile for partners of the No. 68 and Brandonbilt Motorsports. (Image: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

They get mentioned every time I’m talking to people. I could say, “Hey! I’ll teach you guys a tutorial on how to open a (laughs) Larry’s Lemonade with your teeth!” Then people will want to see that! So it’s one of those things that is huge for us to take back to the partners from this year. 

It’s huge for us to look at and see what kind of numbers we get with a win on tracking the data on social media, print media, TV media – to give that return. And, to show what the potential is, so when we go in to talk to companies and validate a spend, this helps us shoot for that higher number that’ll allow us the better equipment, the better cars, more staff, higher quality of everything. And I think that’s really what it takes to kick it off is getting that first win.

Jones: That’s really interesting to learn! And I think you broke social media this week! 

Brown: (laughs) Yeah! I think I did too.

Jones: Finally, it’s always just so cool to see the emotion that comes with the first win. We got to hear it on your radio and we got to see it at the start-finish line. So after all the blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into Brandonbilt Motorsports, what was it like sharing this moment with your family? And then what are some moments from the past few days that you’ll cherish for years to come?

Brown: Oh, I mean, being able to celebrate in victory lane with dad, that was the dream come true. I mean, we always had the little red 68 go-kart when I was nine years old that we raced with and we got to go to the winner’s circle at the local go-kart track. When you look at the races on Saturday and Sunday, it’s like, “Man, that’s the victory! Doing the burnout, jumping up and down in victory lane, throwing Gatorade, water, Coke, whatever, (laughs) Larry’s Lemonade on everybody!” And that was the moment that I wanted to share with dad. To be able to actually do it was a dream come true.

Then over the past few days, getting to spend time with my girlfriend, Morgan, and really just kind of embrace the win, celebrate the win. It’s been extremely special. She’s made it very special for me. 

Then, today we’re going to go celebrate with everybody at Young’s Motorsports. We’re housed in the same shop as Tate Fogelman who won the Truck race right before us. 

So, just big celebrations all around! And it almost feels like we’re not racing this weekend because we’re still celebrating the last one! But, after this evening it’s all focused forward onto Charlotte and the Roval.

 

The Podium Finish would like to congratulate Brandon and Brandonbilt Motorsports on their first win. Be sure to follow Brandon Brown on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, as well as Brandonbilt Motosports (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook). I would like to extend a huge thank you to Brown’s PR Representative, Mac MacLeod, for his assistance with this interview.

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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