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NASCAR XFINITY Series

Terra Talks with Brandon Brown, Vol. 4

Brandon Brown Sent it for our final interview. (Image: Michael Guariglia | TPF)

With a standout 2021 in the rearview for Brandon Brown, the time has come to wrap up our NASCAR Xfinity Series conversations. The always entertaining driver didn’t disappoint when it came to some questions from left field. We also reflected on a season that saw his first win and looked ahead to some changes for 2022.

Terra Jones: When we spoke over the summer, you were celebrating your 100th career start and I asked what you wanted to accomplish in the next 100. You immediately said, “That first win!” And, sure enough, you got it! I’m sure that was the highlight of the season, but what are some other standout, memorable moments from 2021 for you and your team? 

Brandon Brown: Obviously, the win was a huge standout for me. It’s like breaking a mental barrier as a driver. There are some drivers that don’t believe in it and some drivers that do. I’m one that does. It’s one of those things where you’re like, “I’ve made the step up, now to win is going to be a challenge.” So breaking that mental barrier was huge for me. And then the other highlights of the season were that we had the most top 10s and the most top fives in a single year than we have before. Which is so wild to me. Because on paper, our season with the top 10s and top fives and then the win, it’s so much better than we’ve ever done. But then there were those mechanical issues early on in the season that set us back so much. Much too far. That’s the bummer part. 

But yeah, I’d say other standout points were the top five at Phoenix, the first one, then the top five at Texas. The “For Sale” video, obviously, was a big moment! Then the partnerships created from this, the business relationships created. Those have helped our team tremendously and are going to allow us to run so much more competitively in 2022. They have been just a huge part for us. So I guess those would be the highlights of it. 

Partnerships make it all possible. (Image: Landen Ciardullo | TPF)

Jones: It was definitely a highlight year for your team! Now, I know there hasn’t been an official announcement for you and your team yet. But I feel an important trait to have, no matter what your profession is or how long you’ve been working at something, is to keep learning. What is something you learned from this season that you hope to carry over to next season?

Brown: A big thing for me was learning how much the field changes when going from racing in the mid-pack area, from 15th to 11th place, and how the drivers there are, and then how drivers react in the top 10, top five, and racing for the lead. It changes so much. It’s hard to put words to it. It’s not that it’s a physical game. When you’re up in the top 10, it’s all mental games. 

Running with the front runners brings a new set of challenges – one that Brandon Brown is happy to battle through. (Image: Jonathan Huff | TPF)

When you’re running in the top 15, you’re just trying to set up a move. You’re trying to be very basic with what moves you make in the car. It’s more purpose-driven. So if you’re getting to the outside of somebody, it’s to pass them and only to pass them. But when you get inside the top 10, your car necessarily doesn’t pass them as soon as you get to their right rear or to their left rear. It’s one of those things where you’ve really got to cause the person to mess up.

And doing that becomes so much more of a mental game where you’re not even diving on the inside or the outside just to make the pass, you’re doing it to mess with the driver ahead of you or behind you. You’re working on trying to sneak away runs. You’re trying to predict runs that might be building around you. There was just so much to learn when you run upfront compared to where we would run on average of the 11th to 15th mark. So it was an incredibly big learning experience for me. But, I’m happy that it happened so that heading into this season, with much more competitive equipment, it’s gonna make us that much better. 

Jones: That’s really intriguing! Now, looking at next season, NASCAR released the schedules and there were quite a few shockers. They have added a trip to Portland for the XFINITY Series. What does a trip out West for a standalone event mean financially for a smaller team like Brandonbilt Motorsports? 

Brown: Oh, it’s a big one. You’re not gonna put much more mileage on a truck and trailer than Portland from North Carolina. Maybe if we started in Florida, it’d be a little more! But no, I mean, I’m personally excited. I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest for business, pleasure, or racing. So it’s just going to be a whole new adventure for me. I’m really looking forward to that. But at the same time, it’s one of those things that small team, big team, middle team, it’s gonna be expensive to get out there. 

The positive to it, I’m gonna be a glass half full, looking towards the holidays kind of guy, is that it’s a new market. Predominantly, NASCAR is a southeast series. But heading to the Pacific Northwest, that’s quite the opposite! So it’s a brand new market to where companies that might not have gone into NASCAR might go for one. Like, you might see a Starbucks car out there or something. I don’t know, it’ll be exciting to see what comes out of that! I want to hear them announcing Brandon Brown and the Pumpkin Spice Latte, number 68! (laughs)

Jones: (laughs) A pretty cinnamon and cream car! Now, more schedule changes: they took Mid-Ohio off the schedule. You had a sixth-place finish there this season. What were your thoughts on that not being on the schedule for next year? 

Brown: You know, it’s a bummer because I really enjoyed Mid-Ohio. It was such a technical-style road course. I felt like that was one of the few tracks that we run that really races like a true road course. We run the ROVAL and stuff like that, and those are fun, don’t get me wrong. But it’s like a tight, technical course, with a lot of elevation change. Mid-Ohio was one of the best ones for us. And, I told a couple of guys on the team, as soon as we get good at a track, they take it off. And sure enough, it was taken off! (laughs) It’ll be Talladega next!

Jones: (laughs) I hope not! Now, before we move on to some lasts, I want you to look at the season as a whole. You talked about having some of your best finishes this season, and of course, your Talladega win. Combine that with calls from your crew chief, work done from the shop to pit road, take the total package. What grade would you give the 68 team this season?

Brown: On our personnel side with our crew chief, car chiefs, pit crew, everybody, I give them an A. They were all fantastic. But when it came to our crew plus equipment, truly, a C+. I want to give them a B, but we had so many failures at the beginning of the season that just could have been avoided. Right? At the same time, it’s one of those things where someone, it could have been anybody, I mean, even myself – we could have gone in and looked at a couple of things, rolled under a car, double-checked something. Who knows? Maybe see something that somebody else didn’t.

Let him hear it! Do you agree with Brandon Brown’s grade for the No. 68 team? (Image: Sean Folsom | TPF)

It’s one of those small team issues, so I really can’t blame it on the crew. We’re running with a little older stuff, so it’s gonna have some wear and tear. And, you don’t have as many people to check the stuff that’s gonna have wear and tear. So you don’t place blame on anyone or anything. That’s just the end grade of all that happened. The C+, I guess we would just base it off of the results of a lot of the failures. But then, getting a win…it’s kind of like having a C average and then you go get a win and it’s now a C+! 

Jones: (laughs) Hey, we can grade on a curve here if you want! 

Brown: Yeah, it’s like, “What are we going to need to pass this class? I need a B on the final? Okay!” (laughs)

Jones: (laughs) C means completed!

Brown: I always told my parents, “Cs get degrees!” (laughs)

Jones (laughs) Okay, let’s move to the final quarterly question. If you could race against any driver, be it someone from another series, someone up and coming, or even someone that predates you. Who are you racing? 

Brown: Oh, wow. Man, there are so many names that come to mind and it depends where I’m at. If I’m on a road course, I’m gonna choose a circle track driver so I can beat him. (laughs) Honest to goodness though, I mean, obviously, you’d love to race against the One Tough Customer, just to see how hard he was on you. 

Jones: Absolutely! 

Brown: So definitely Dale Earnhardt. Or, you know, if I’m on a road course, Mario Andretti would be awesome to race against. If it’s somebody now? Maybe like Will Power, Simon Pagenaud? I don’t know, there are so many people. I would love to have been in the field in the Cup Series in the early 2000s. Dale, Jeff, Dale Jr., Rusty Wallace. It would be great!

Jones: It was definitely a different breed then! 

Brown: Oh, I know! But it kind of felt like my breed, you know? It’s just one of those things where I get out of the car right now, and I’ll have raced hard against some other drivers in the XFINITY field and they get out and they whine and cry, “Oh, you bumped me!” or “You ran me really tight!” or “Why are you driving so aggressively?” They get really in their feelings. There are things where I’m like, “Given the same opportunity, you would do it too.” I put on new tires and drive from 15th to eighth at Richmond and they’re crying because I was aggressive with my passes. All I can think is, “Everybody’s gonna look back at this race and go, that Brandon Brown guy finished eighth. But man, was he mean!” (laughs)

“Given the same opportunity, you would do it too.” – Brandon Brown (Image: Luis Torres | TPF)

Jones: (laughs) Too many emotions! Now, since it’s the last XFINITY Series interview for the season, who should your replacement be next season? Who do you think fans want to hear from on a regular basis? 

Brown: Ooh. Hmmm. I’m wanting to make sure that everybody that I’ve talked to is coming back to XFINITY. 

Jones: Yeah. There haven’t been a whole lot of announcements yet. 

Brown: Yeah! So…Somebody that the people would probably like to hear from is Josh Williams because he’s pretty relatable to the fans. I feel like both he and I are similar, as in we are very tied into the teams that we’re with. Mine being a family team. His was a family team. I’m not sure what his announcement is going to be. I know that he just left Mario’s team, but he’s very tight in there. Where I am tied in on the business side, working on marketing and sponsorships and constantly fighting those battles, he is more involved in the mechanical area, very focused in on turning wrenches. 

Might the Terra Talks torch be passed from Brandon Brown to Josh Williams in 2022? (Image: Landen Ciardullo | TPF)

So I feel like it’s pretty relatable to the blue-collar, grassroots racing kind of fan. A lot of those guys that race like that, they’re all working on their own stuff, and that would be somebody they can relate to. 

Jones: That’s perfect! He was actually on my shortlist, so I’m excited that you mentioned him. All right, we’re gonna wrap up with a few fun ones here. So have you ever been in a case of mistaken identity? Has someone come up to you thinking that you’re someone else?

Brown: Yes, absolutely. I was leaving the Texas Motor Speedway and I was walking from the rental car to the airport. And I got all my bags and this fan comes up and was like, “Brandon! Brandon! Brandon! Please! I want your autograph!” And I turned around, like, Oh, okay. I mean, it’s weird that you called me out by name, but sure. And then? They handed me a Brandon Jones hero card and I was like, “Oh, wrong Brandon!” 

Jones: Did you still sign it? 

Brown: (laughs) No. I was like, “Man, you got the wrong Brandon. I’m sure Brandon Jones will be here shortly but, wrong Brandon.” 

Jones: That’s so funny. Okay. Let’s look at the Bristol race. I think everyone kind of expected something crazy at the end of that race. Fans definitely got their money’s worth with the side-by-side synchronized slide between Allmendinger and Cindric. So what’s one of the craziest finishes you’ve been involved in? 

Brown: Ah, well, it was too dark at Talladega one time… (laughs)

Jones: (laughs) This is true! 

Crazy finishes seem to be a common theme for Brandon Brown. (Image: Michael Guariglia | TPF)

Brown: I’d say the craziest finish I’ve ever been a part of was Kentucky in the Truck Series probably four or five years ago. I was running in the top 15, peeking into the top 10 for a really great day. There was like 15 to go or something, you know, not a lot of laps left. And we were in for a great day. We just need to keep plugging away. We were catching cars in front of us, or trucks I should say, and I was excited because the next truck to pass was going to be Cole Custer. And me and Byron and all those guys, we’re digging. And then, Ben Kennedy goes up and takes the fence down. I mean, literally, the fence. Ripped it out. And they had to stop our race. And that’s how it ended. Because they couldn’t repair the fence mid-race. So that was nuts. 

Jones: That’s wild!

Brown: Yeah! There you go! 

Jones: Alright, finally one would argue that what you do is an extreme sport. But is there something “extreme” that you’ve never done that you’d like to try? Bungee jumping? Skydiving? 

Brown: If we’re gonna start naming off extreme sports, have you guys tried Black Friday shopping? But no, let’s see. An extreme sport to try? I mean, if I get pillows and a giant inflatable landing spot, I would probably do the what is it? The stadium Supercross thing the motocross guys do? Like all those crazy backflips and stuff. Yeah, as long as I get to land in a pillow!

 

A huge thank you goes out to Brandon Brown for participating in this series all season. A special thanks to his Public Relations Representative, Mac MacLeod, for making this series possible. Be sure to follow Brandon on his social channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)  for all the latest news and antics!

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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