Brennan Poole feels like a championship threat after summer surge

Russell LaBounty/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

DARLINGTON, S.C. — Brennan Poole might not be considered a championship threat in the eyes of many yet.

But after a strong summer stretch that’s seen the third-year NASCAR XFINITY Series regular quietly rise to fourth in the championship standings, he thinks he should be.

“I think right now we’re probably one of the No. 1 guys to look at,” Poole told Kickin’ the Tires. “Everyone else may not look at that right now, but we’ve ran well. We’ve been real consistent, ran and got our stage points each week. We’ve been clicking off top 10s and been right there for top fives.”

The opening months of his second full-time season with Chip Ganassi Racing didn’t go well for Poole. The Texan suffered two DNFs in the first six races of the year, and additional poor runs at Richmond International Raceway (22nd) and Talladega Superspeedway (24th) trapped him back in 10th on the championship table after nine races.

In the time since that rough beginning Poole and the No. 48 team have bounced back. Buoyed by a strong showing in stage points — Poole currently sits third among series regulars with 135 stage points — and a stretch of 10 races in which the 26-year-old has tallied seven of his 11 top top 10s on the year, Poole has risen up to fourth in the championship standings, trailing only the dominant JR Motorsports (JRM) trio of Elliott Sadler, William Byron and Justin Allgaier.

Poole credits both crew chief Chad Norris and his own adjustment to this year’s cars as the cause of his improvement.

“I just think Chad (Norris) and I are clicking and we’re on the same page,” Poole said. “I think I’ve figured out with this new aero package where I want to be, and my race craft has gotten a lot better. We’re not making mistakes. We’re staying out of trouble. We’re doing a lot better on our restarts, and our pit stops have been great. All of the guys have been working really hard.

“Everything’s really been coming together for us. I feel like were doing exactly what we need to be doing with a couple races before the playoffs.”

With his uptick in performance coming just before the playoffs, Poole is confident that his team is peaking at the right time. By flying under the radar, Poole is also avoiding the pressure that falls on the JRM trio leading him in the standings.

“I honestly feel like the pressure’s on those guys up front,” Poole said. “It’s not really on us. They seem to be struggling a little bit, and we’re hitting our stride right when it counts.”

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