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Terra Talks with Brandon Brown, Vol. 3

Brandon Brown’s No. 68 Brandonbilt Motorsports team prepares for the day at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. (Image: Josh Jones / The Podium Finish)

Brandon Brown enters the Olympic break coming off a tough stretch of races. However, since Darlington, he has piloted his No. 68 Chevy Camaro to three top 10 finishes. The little-team-that-could of Brandonbilt Motorsports currently sits 41 points below the NASCAR Xfinity Playoffs cut line.

As we continue the Terra Talks series, we reflected on those recent races, talked about wild on-track moments, looked at what he hopes to be ahead, and even created an in-race playlist.

Terra Jones: To start, I want to reflect on some of the races since we last spoke in April. Let’s go all the way back to Darlington. That race didn’t treat you so well. However, during the pace laps, your crew chief, Doug Randolph, was encouraging you, and he said, “You love this place!” We hear that same sentiment from so many drivers. What is it specifically that you like so much about that track?

Brandon Brown: My favorite part about it is just how much of a driver’s track it is. I won’t say that it doesn’t matter, but the equipment isn’t the end-all, be-all there. It’s just a place where you can really let talent shine. I love it because it allows you to really push yourself. It keeps you honest. And what I mean by that is if you’re over pushing a car and you’re burning the tires off, it definitely shows. So there’s a ton of strategy that goes into it.

Brandon Brown might love Darlington Raceway, but the Lady in Black did not treat him well at the Spring race. (Image: Luis Torres / The Podium Finish)

Jones: I think it’s a fan favorite for a lot of those reasons as well! Now, Dover and Pocono both had some wild moments in the Xfinity races. At Dover, we saw cars ending up on top of each other and at Pocono, Justin Haley hit the inside wall and kind of pinballed through the field – somehow missing a lot of people! Looking back over the years, what’s one of the weirdest incidents you’ve been involved in? Maybe not a wreck, but just a bizarre on-track incident?

Brown: Oh, that’s tough. I guess the weirdest incident I’ve ever personally been involved in was 2020 at Pocono. They had just implemented a new rule where there’s a safety valve that goes on the top of the oil tank so that if you were to roll over, it would plug the line and it would keep oil from falling in the cockpit or on the driver.

Under pace laps, mine ended up, somehow, bouncing up and shutting off the line. We had no idea! And when we went to take the green flag, I had no oil. Then, there was just a big thud from right behind me. I was like, “What’s going on?” and I just watched the oil pressure gauge drop and the motor cut off. I ended up wrecking a lot of people because of oil. And, I’ve never seen Doug so mad. That was wild.

Jones: That’s crazy! Definitely a bizarre situation. And speaking of Doug, again, at Charlotte, he gambled with strategy. Now, one might argue that’s what he gets paid to do! But he brought you in for fuel and adjustments, saving the last set of tires, banking on a late-race caution. Fortunately for you, that worked out and you brought home a P4 finish. But when he was laying out the plans, you could hear on the scanner, there was a little bit of trepidation in your voice. How hard is it for you to trust him in those kinds of “Gut versus Heart” situations?

The weekend where “the gamble” paid off was one to remember. (Image: Michael Guariglia / The Podium Finish)

Brown: Yeah, so every driver, whenever there’s a caution that comes out, they want new tires because it’s a risk. And, you know, that’s why he gets paid the big bucks, that’s for sure! Sometimes it really pays off like, it did at Charlotte. Sometimes it doesn’t, like at New Hampshire.

So your only worry is like, “Okay. We had a decent strong run today. I don’t want to throw that away gambling.” Then, if we’re running within the top 15 and almost in the top 10, we want to finish somewhere around there, not 20th because we didn’t take tires. 

So, yeh, there was a little bit of hesitation. But I do trust Doug. And whatever he says goes anyway, so it doesn’t matter if I trust him or not! (laughs) It’s his way or the highway! So, you’re like, “I hope you’re right!” But after a day like Charlotte, you’re willing to do that bet everywhere!

Jones: (laughs) I’m sure! You celebrated your 100th career start at Texas. Congratulations on that! I know you’re still chasing that elusive first win, but what are some memorable on-track moments that stand out from those starts?

Brown: I’d say definitely our top five in Texas last year was huge. It was a big swing in momentum for us that we needed. Finishing third at Phoenix was awesome because it was unexpected on a late-race restart. And then, at Charlotte Motor Speedway – any time you have a chance. We were running fifth and I was like, “Okay, one more caution and we might win this thing! One more caution.” But we never got that last caution. 

There’s so much that’s happened though. It’s been memorable. Good memories and bad. Picking up new people, losing old and a little bit of everything. That’s the ups and downs of racing. It’s been fantastic.

Jones: That’s awesome to reflect on that. Now, no one knows what the future holds, but looking at your next 100, what are some things you hope to accomplish in that time?

Brown: I definitely want that first win by then!

Jones: For sure! 

Brown: But a lot of the goals are to keep building in this upward trajectory that we’re on. Keep building Brandonbilt Motorsports and the 68 team to a powerhouse team. We definitely want to make sure that we’re doing our best when hunting sponsorship and nailing down funding so that we can make sure that we have the best equipment available to us. That all makes that elusive first win come a lot easier, for sure. 

For a young driver, and a young team, a lot has been accomplished, but there is so much more they hope to achieve. (Image: Josh Jones / The Podium Finish)

Jones: Definitely! I think it’s always good to have those goals and aspirations to focus and encourage you. Now, NASCAR added two tracks to the Xfinity schedule this season – COTA and Nashville. Putting the finishes aside, what were your thoughts on those two tracks and their being added to the schedule?

Brown: For COTA, it was tough. I’m not really a road course extraordinaire by any means. But that track was just tough. If I had a better finish, I probably would have liked it a lot better. But it didn’t feel it was very well built for our car, for how low you’re getting in the gears. It’s almost like a stop-and-go track, which is perfect for a Formula One car that’s built for that. I’m glad that they added it because I know the Next Gen car is one that’s going to be more apt to running road courses and it’ll be a little easier. It was definitely awesome to get down there and learn a new track.

Nashville was a blast and I loved it. The brake rotor failure was not ideal. I felt like we had a fairly strong showing for showing up kind of blind, I guess you could say. But, overall, I really enjoyed that one. 

Jones: Nashville was definitely fun to watch. Spinning off of that, what is a track not currently on the Xfinity schedule you’d like to see added?

Brown: Oh, that’s a tough one. I’d have to say IRP (Lucas Oil Raceway) would be fun to get back to. I know they used to run it before I was in any of the top three touring series. It just looks like a blast. And I really enjoyed Iowa. I mean, there wasn’t a lot to do out there but it produced some pretty great racing. So I really enjoyed it there. I do wish we could go back there. 

Jones: We’ll keep our fingers crossed! It’s time for the Quarterly Question: If you could put together an in-car playlist that wouldn’t interfere with your team’s audio communications, name one or two songs that would top that list.

Brown: Oh, another tough one! What’s that Ludicrous song? The one that’s like (singing) “Move…get out the way…” you know it?

Jones: Yeah, yeah!

Brown: Or “Life in the Fast Lane” by the Eagles. 

“Get out the way…” – Ludacris. And Brandon Brown, probably. (Image: Luis Torres / The Podium Finish)

Jones: There you go! Those are good ones. Okay, a two-parter for you before we wrap things up for this time. During this Olympic break, what is something fun you’re looking forward to doing? And then what is something you are doing, or you and your team are doing, to be in the right mindset to finish out the regular season as strong as possible.

Brown: Yeah, so I’ve definitely taken this first off week to kind of decompress. I actually just got my first house so I’m trying to get in there and get out of boxes. It’s been kind of a nightmare. (laughs) But at the same time, it’s all exciting. I’m just looking forward to settling in there and getting into a rhythm. 

I’m hoping that everybody on the team is able to take a little bit of a breath. I know that we’ve had some tough races in this last stretch, so we’re kind of licking our wounds, so to speak. I just want to make sure that we’re all kind of heading into it with clear minds and looking forward to an easier stretch where we’re gonna get our finishes.

I’m actually heading up to Virginia to see the family for a day and get some more stuff from my parent’s house, where I know mom’s excited for me to get all the rest of my stuff out! (laughs) I’ll do that and then hang out with some of the guys from Larry’s Lemonade and do sponsorship stuff. 

But a lot of it’s been focusing on being easygoing, making sure that everybody’s happy when we get into this next stretch.

Jones: Speaking of Larry’s Lemonade, have you sent any to the other smaller teams like you mentioned earlier this season?

Brown: (laughs) No, I haven’t! I definitely need to make sure that when I’m there for our sponsorship event that I’m loading down the car with it!

Jones: Yes. You need to plan ahead! Finally, over the next 13 races, you’ll visit seven tracks for the second time this season. Where are you most looking forward to returning and being able to apply what you learned earlier this season?

Brown: I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to Daytona because it’s a track where teams like ours really, truly have a great shot at succeeding, and possibly winning. I’m really excited about that one. Darlington will be fun to get back to.

Despite not having the finish he wanted, Brandon Brown is looking forward to heading back to the Track Too Tough To Tame this fall. (Image: Luis Torres / The Podium Finish)

It’s just one of those things where the second time back, it’s like, “Okay, the strategy we went with the first time didn’t pay off, but will it the second time?” And, we need to make sure we finish all those races that we didn’t the first time.

A track we haven’t been to yet is Bristol and I’m definitely excited to get back there!

Be sure to follow Brandon Brown on his social accounts (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), as well as Brandonbilt Motorsports (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) for all the latest happenings and updates.

A huge thank you to Brandon Brown for taking the time to talk during an ‘off’ week. Also, thank you to his PR Representative, Mac MacLeod, for helping to arrange this interview and make this series possible. 

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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