By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer
Brandon Brown screamed two words into the darkening sky Saturday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway. It came after the 28-year-old driver won for the first time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in his 114th start.
But don’t think two words sum up the emotions of the debut victory.
“The emotions have really been surreal,” Brown said. “It’s so hard to capture one single emotion… happiness, relief, joy, excitement. It’s just the feeling of fulfillment. It’s something that dad and I have been working on since I was nine years old.”
Indeed, running for his family-owned Brandonbilt Motorsports, Brown has worked with his father Jerry for nearly 20 years in auto racing. Making his Camping World Truck Series for his dad in 2014, the Virginian made the jump to Xfinity in 2016, with the Brandonbilt team now amassing more than 100 starts in the series.
“The emotions come from just years and years and years of just relentless hours and work at the shop,” he said. “Missing proms, missing homecomings, missing college events, friends’ birthdays, weddings, my cousin’s wedding.
“You’re missing everything to dedicate yourself 110 percent into your sport. To finally see it come through and feel victory… God it’s one of those things you dream of.”
— NASCAR Xfinity (@NASCAR_Xfinity) October 2, 2021
With a victory trophy in their possession, Brown found if difficult to mold his emotions into the English language.
“You always wonder, ‘What would I do? What would I say? What burnout am I going to do? Am I going to have something that sets me apart,'” he said. “Everything culminated into one single event that was pure bliss. The emotion is that we did it. We did it, we did it. It’s such a fantastic emotion. It’s so relieving to make my dad proud and pull it off.”
Despite the race ending under caution, the victory didn’t come easy. Grabbing the race lead on the inside lane, Brown had playoff drivers and still more than 10 laps left to run if he wanted to grab the win.
Following a multi-car crash in Turn 3, NASCAR credited Brown with the race lead, as the No. 68 Chevrolet led at the recent scoring loop.
And with darkness coating the track with limited visibility, the race was shortened, giving Brown one life-changing radio call.
“I’m sure if you look back at my hear rate, it was spiked,” he said. “It was more about anxiousness. What is the call going to be? Will it be called off? Are we in the lead? There are so many things going on, NASCAR is asking you how the track is.
“I thought it could go either way. It was kind of dangerous because when I pulled off [Turn] 2, it was so hard seeing into Turn 3. It was gonna be — I don’t know if I would call it miserable — it was going to put a lot of people on edge.
“Thankfully, I was in the right place at the right time. When it comes down to a safety call, hats off the NASCAR. It’s one of those things where you’re happy to be on this side of it.”
With only three prior top-five finishes in his six-season Xfinity career, Brown knew his best chance at winning would come at Daytona or Talladega, the circuit’s two superspeedway tracks of every season.
Leading laps at Daytona in August before running out of fuel, Brown knew he had what it took to last until the end once Talladega rolled around.
“We knew the superspeedways were our best chance as a smaller team [with] the playing field is more even,” he said. “So, we just had to focus on bringing a car fast as Xfinity internet. I feel that was the ticket to getting to Victory Lane. [Crew chief} Doug Randolph and the whole team put together a great piece. Just so thankful.”
With Larry’s Hard Lemonade as the team’s primary sponsor Saturday, Brandonbilt has been supported by Trade The Chain, Jabs Construction and Baby Doge Coin in recent months. Now calling themselves a race-winning organization, Brown hopes this will increase exposure for Brandonbilt heading into 2022.
“I hope this is the first domino to fall to make the rest fall,” he said. “To help us have a better presence and show the other Xfinity guys that… hey, if we run up front, we can get it done.
“Practically, I hope this is the beginning of a big upswing. I don’t want this to be a one-and-done thing. I hope this brings in more partnerships, more sponsorships, more eyes on the car. I hope it brings nothing but success.”
— NASCAR Xfinity (@NASCAR_Xfinity) October 3, 2021