Chaos ensued on the last lap of Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Phoenix Raceway, and as frontrunners started to crash and fade, Brandon Brown navigated his No. 68 Brandonbilt Motorsports Chevrolet through the mess and safely to the checkered flag. Brown placed third.
It marked his best career finish in 91 starts.
“This is huge,” Brown said. “This is what the sponsors that are on board need to see. This is what potential sponsors need to see.”
Brown started the Call 811 Before You Dig 200 presented by Arizona 811 from the 11th position. He was 15th at the end of Stage 1 and then 12th at the conclusion of Stage 2.
The final result was his fourth top-11 finish in the five races so far this season. Brown was sixth in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway, eighth at the Daytona Road Course and then 11th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last week. Outside of those, he was 34th at Homestead-Miami Speedway, ending the race prematurely due to overheating.
“Honestly, this was one of those things where we knew we needed a good start,” Brown said. “We didn‘t expect this hot of a start, but we knew we needed a good start — better than last year — just because of how stout the Xfinity field is now with cars added, drivers added with a full season. Just one of those things where those spots where we kind of nudged our way in, you‘re not going to be able to nudge anymore. You‘re going to have to fight more just to meet that same deadline for making the playoffs.”
A deadline he barely met in 2020.
Brown finished 12th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ regular-season finale last year. It was enough to clinch the 12th and final playoff spot based on his points standing. At the time, he called the situation a “dream come true” — which is understandable considering it was the first time he ever qualified for the postseason competition.
It was also the first time for Brandonbilt Motorsports in the postseason, whose shop is located in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Like Brown, Brandonbilt Motorsports is in its third full-time season.
“When you have a smaller staff size, my role becomes involved in the car getting to the race track,” Brown said. “When I‘m not having to focus on that, I can go focus and watch race film, I can watch tape, I can look at data, I can way better prepare myself for each track that we show up to. And it‘s so crucial, especially when you‘re showing up with no practice, no qualifying; it‘s just green-flag racing. … That‘s kind of translated to the success, being there and being in that position to make a pounce when something like this happens.”