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By: Zach Catanzareti, editor-in-chief
Brandon Brown shouted two words into the darkening sky on Saturday afternoon at the Talladega Superspeedway. It came after the 28-year-old driver first won the NASCAR Xfinity Series in his 114th start.
But don’t think that two words sum up the emotions of the first victory.
“The emotions have really been surreal,” said Brown. “It’s so hard to capture a single emotion… happiness, relief, joy, excitement. It’s just the feeling of accomplishment. It’s something dad and I have been working on since I was nine.
Indeed, running for his family business Brandonbilt Motorsports, Brown worked with his father Jerry for almost 20 years in auto racing. Making his Camping World Truck Series for his father in 2014, the Virginian made the jump to Xfinity in 2016, with Team Brandonbilt now amassing over 100 starts in the series.
“Emotions come from years and years and years of endless hours and work in the store,” he said. “Missing proms, missing homecoming, missing college events, friends’ birthdays, weddings, my cousin’s wedding.
“You lack everything to devote yourself 110% to your sport. To finally see it go by and feel the victory… God is one of those things that you dream of.
– NASCAR Xfinity (@NASCAR_Xfinity) October 2, 2021
With a victory trophy in their possession, Brown struggled to mold his emotions in the English language.
“You always ask yourself, ‘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. “It all culminated in one event which 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 to be successful.
Despite the end of the bail race, the victory was not easy. Seizing the lead on the inside track, Brown had drivers for the playoffs and he still had over 10 laps to go if he wanted to win.
Following a crash involving multiple cars on Turn 3, NASCAR awarded Brown the lead, with the No. 68 Chevrolet leading in the recent scoring loop.
And with darkness covering the track in limited visibility, the race was shortened, giving Brown a life-changing radio call.
“I’m sure if you look at my heart rate it went up,” he said. “It was more about anxiety. What will be the call? Will it be canceled? Are we in the lead? There is so much going on that NASCAR asks you how the track is.
“I thought it could go both ways. It was a little dangerous because when I left [Turn] 2, it was so hard to see turn 3. It was going to be – I don’t know if I would say it was miserable – it was going to put a lot of people on edge.
“Fortunately, I was in the right place at the right time. When it comes to a safety call, hats off to NASCAR. It’s one of those things that you’re happy to be on this side.
With just three top-five finishes in his six-season Xfinity career, Brown knew his best chance at winning would come at Daytona or Talladega, the two superspeedway tracks on the circuit each season.
Leading laps at Daytona in August before running out of fuel, Brown knew he had what it took to last to the end once Talladega rolled around.
“We knew the superspeedways were our best chance as a smaller team [with] the playing field is more level, ”he said. “So we just had to focus on bringing in a fast car like Internet Xfinity. I think that was the ticket to get to Victory Lane.[TeamLeader}DougRandolphettallteamontmisenplaceunexcellentmit[Chefd’équipe}DougRandolphettoutel’équipeontmisenplaceunexcellentmorceauTellementreconnaissant[Crewchief}DougRandolphandthewholeteamputtogetheragreatpieceJustsothankful”
With Larry’s Hard Lemonade as the team’s main sponsor on Saturday, Brandonbilt has been supported by Trade The Chain, Jabs Construction and Baby Doge Coin in recent months. Now qualifying as the winning organization, Brown hopes this will increase Brandonbilt’s exposure by 2022.
“I hope this is the first domino to fall to bring down the rest,” he said. “To help us have a better presence and show the other guys at Xfinity that… hey, if we run ahead, we can do that.”
“Concretely, I hope this is the start of a great recovery. I don’t want it to be a one-off thing. I hope this will lead to more partnerships, more sponsorships, more looks on the car. Hope this will only bring success.
– NASCAR Xfinity (@NASCAR_Xfinity) October 3, 2021