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In the Fast Lane with Brennan Poole

Make no mistake, Brennan Poole wants to win it all in 2017. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson)

Make no mistake, Brennan Poole wants to win it all in 2017. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson)

As the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff field races into Charlotte, 26-year-old Brennan Poole enters Saturday’s Drive for the Cure 300 with confidence and poise.

After all, Poole has two straight top-10 finishes in the first two Round of 12 races.  For this reason, it seems like the No. 48 DC Solar Chevy Camaro team is peaking when it counts.

Furthermore, Poole enters Saturday’s race ranked sixth in the playoff grid, 27 points ahead of the cutoff position. However, The Woodlands, TX native plans to approach Charlotte as he had at Dover and Kentucky, vying for maximum points.

In addition, Chip Ganassi Racing has been strong in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series.  For this reason, Poole and his CGR comrades are intent on bringing their series championship trophy home to Concord, NC.

Presently, the calm, collected and personable Poole is determined to get the No. 48 team further into the playoff hunt.  A strong showing at Charlotte could mean all the difference between a pleasant “Autumnsong” or “October Rain.”

Recently, I caught up with Poole to talk about the playoffs, his efforts to help Houston, TX following Hurricane Harvey, and his musical mindset with Charlotte.  Indeed, his perspective of the 1.5-mile track is quite unique.

As always, Poole’s insights about racing and life are refreshing as can be.  With that in mind, let’s get “In the Fast Lane with Brennan Poole” here on TPF!

Rob Tiongson :  We’ve seen some speed and strength from the 48 team this season. How do you feel about your chances of battling for the championship now?

He's going the distance, he's going for speed. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson)

He’s going the distance, he’s going for speed. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson)

Brennan Poole :  I feel really good about where we’re at.  The last couple of weeks, with a second and a fifth at a couple of racetracks that are probably are not our best, I feel good about where our team’s at and the fast cars that we have been able to continue to bring to the racetrack. We’ve not had any mistakes and we’ve put ourselves in good position.  So, I’m excited where our team’s at.

Heading into Charlotte, we have a good points cushion to make the next round so I’m happy about that.  We just need to have a good, solid race and not have any failures or mistakes.  We just need a good race to go onto to the next round.  That next round is where it’s going to get tight.  The points are going to be close.  Stage points are going to really mean everything.  You’re going to have to get strong finishes as well in those three races to get to Homestead.

We started out strong, we’ve certainly had the speed to win races and to run right there in the top five, we have what it takes to do it and contend for this championship.  I’m happy and excited and I’m so proud of our guys and the hard work they’ve put in all year to get us to this point.

We have an entirely new group of guys on this 48 team than we did the year before.  We’re all working with each other for the first time other than me and Chad.  We have a new engineer and all new road guys.

It’s been a good year and we’ve had a lot of fun.  We’ve learned a lot from each other.  It seems like over these past couple of months, we’ve all really started clicking with each other.  It’s been a lot of fun.

RT :  You mention about the changes to the team and that’s a testament to the depth of your team.  The Ganassi team has been strong in Cup and Xfinity. How encouraging has it been for the teams to be in the playoffs and does that energy somewhat feed off one another?

BP :  Yea, I think so for sure.  You have a lot of guys in the shop that are working on both cars and part of both operations.  That makes it special.  Everybody’s working hard to achieve the goal of winning the Cup and Xfinity championships.  Everyone’s proud of that and the work they’ve put into the fast cars that we’ve been bringing to the racetrack.  I think that everyone’s energy feeds off one another.

Since we’ve been running so well on both sides, it’s fired everybody up.  It’s been cool to see and be a part of and seeing the reactions from the guys this week.  It’s like when we’ve been going to the racetrack the past couple of months, any week, we can win the race.  When you start having that attitude, everybody starts believing that and it makes a huge difference.

It’s just been cool to be a part of and see everybody’s reaction in the shop with the great runs we’re been having during the past weekends.  It’s been neat and awesome to be a part of.

RT :  Unlike last year, Cup drivers with five or more years of experience are not competing in these playoff events. Do you see this as a golden opportunity to score some wins and be a part of the Championship 4?

With two top-fives in a row to open the Round of 12, how can Poole not smile? (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson)

With two top-fives in a row to open the Round of 12, how can Poole not smile? (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson)

BP :  Well, with the Cup guys, those racecars are still really fast.  The cars that the Cup guys are probably some of the best cars in the entire field.  Those teams put good, young talented guys in those cars that are more capable of winning races and doing what it takes to get it done.  For me, I don’t really see it really being different if they’re there or not there.  We still need to beat those teams.

For us, we approach the race weekends like any other.  We know we need to earn stage points and put ourselves in a position at the end of the race to have an opportunity to win.  I feel like with the first couple of playoff races, we’ve seen that our team has been able to do those things.  So, we must continue to do those things and continue to bring fast racecars to the track.

We need to continue to not have any mistakes and put ourselves in a position where we have an opportunity to have a strong finish and run for a win.  I think that’s what it’s going to take.  The stage points really toss it up this year.  I think when it gets tight in this next round, the stage points are going to mean everything.

It’s just about running well the whole race and being in the top-10 and earning those stage points will make a huge difference.

RT :  I’m sure you’re making your fellow Texans proud.  You’ve assisted your fellow Lone Star State peers with a donation program. How’d the program turn out and impact your fellow Texans?

BP :  We had a food and fund drive a month ago at the race shop.  It was awesome.  We had a lot of people come in off the street and donate.  A lot of guys in the race shop really stepped up and donated a lot.  We ended up raising over 6,000 meals that we sent over to Houston.  It was cool.  We had a deal online where people could donate.

Man, it was awesome.  It was cool to see everybody on our team step up.  A lot of people in the area came and supported it.  It was special.  The disaster hit my hometown where I grew up.  I have a lot of friends and cousins affected by it.  It was tough times and it was cool to see everyone step up and everyone around the world, a lot of other athletes and people that got involved, try to raise money for the rebuild.

There was $180 million worth of damage and just hundreds of thousands of homes that had to be torn down to nothing.  It was cool to see how much everybody cared and stepped up to make a difference.  I was happy to do something to help my hometown out and I’m glad it went as well as it did.

RT :  Definitely.  And we continue to pray for the people in Texas and Puerto Rico with the recent hurricanes.  In the past, we’ve talked about how a lucky break can help a driver lead to a good opportunity. Which drivers in NASCAR somewhat remind you of yourself with their journey in the sport?

BP :  I’m not super close with a lot of the drivers as we are competitors.  I’ve always respected Daniel Hemric.  I’ve raced with Daniel when I was running quarter midgets, and when he was running bandoleros, I was running Legends.  I know how his path went and the hard work and everything he brought to get there and I feel like our situations are very similar.  I’ve always respected him for that and how he worked to get his opportunity.

Of course, Daniel and I have talked about our journeys a little bit.  That’s cool but I don’t really know how a lot of other guys got their opportunities.  Daniel and I certainly respect each other.

Also, my teammate Kyle Larson really fought to get in the sport as well.  He had a couple of lucky breaks, won some races, and got noticed and has been successful in his opportunities, ultimately leading him to race in Cup.  It’s cool to have a teammate like him as well.  Those are a couple of guys that I have a lot of respect for with how they got their opportunities.

RT :  Absolutely, those are two excellent drivers who have made names for themselves and so are you.  You’re something of a music enthusiast. If you had to pick a song that best describes Charlotte Motor Speedway, which one would it be?

It's either jazz or hip hop for Poole with racing at Charlotte. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson)

It’s either jazz or hip hop for Poole with racing at Charlotte. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson)

BP :  (chuckles)  That’s a tough question because I listen to a lot of music. I don’t know what I would say best describes Charlotte as it has a couple of different personalities.

When you’re running on the bottom lane, you must be smooth, patient, and disciplined and make sure you stay right on the bottom.  So, you probably need something more along the lines of a slower song like some smooth jazz which would be funny to say.

When you run the top through turns one and two, you really need to drive the car hard and you’re pushing extremely hard.  So, you probably need something more hardcore like hip hop or something.  I don’t know what songs exactly I’d say but something hip hop that would pump you up to run the top.

When you get down to three and four, when you’re running the top, you really don’t want to overdrive three.  You’re in the gas hard and running up against the fence so it’s another extreme moment.  I would say with the bottom, I would want some soft jazz and then on the top, I would want some hip hop to get me really fired up.

RT :  Interesting choices!  You couldn’t be more distinct with this.  I’ll never look at Charlotte the same way thanks to you! (both laugh) You’re an interesting fella, my friend.  Tell me two truths and a lie about yourself.

BP :  I won back to back runner of the year awards in my junior high.  I won two golf tournaments in high school.  And I won my high school science fair.

Author’s Notes :  Special thanks to Brennan Poole and the kind folks at Chip Ganassi Racing for their kindness with this feature on TPF!  If you’d like to learn more about Brennan and his team, “Follow” them on Twitter, “Like” their Facebook page, and “Visit” their official website!

Rob Tiongson is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.

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