Jacob Brown‘s NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Division V national championship this season was particularly special for him and the track where he races.
Brown had seven wins and 12 top-five finishes in 16 starts at Nebraska‘s I-80 Speedway, scoring 404 national points on the way to the Division V national championship.
The honor comes after officials at I-80 Speedway announced the track would be closing after the 2022 season.
“It‘s definitely an honor, especially since it‘s probably the last time I‘ll be racing for that since I-80 Speedway is closing officially now,” Brown said. “I don‘t think I‘ll be putting that many nights on to go run for a NASCAR national championship again unless another track in the area goes to NASCAR.”
It was about midway through the season when I-80 Speedway had a double features night, and Brown won both. That‘s when he realized his wins were doing more than just sending him up the leaderboard at at the 4/10-mile dirt track.
“I never thought about it until about midway through the season,” he said. “My crew guy said, ‘You better get serious and try to go win this national championship.‘ And I said, ‘I don‘t know how much more serious you can get, we just won both features in one night.‘ But then we went and got another car and raced in another class as well to get more Division V points, because there‘s three classes you can race for Division V at our track. We raced two classes some nights.
“We went out and won a bunch of races and were always in the top two or three about every race. Putting up those statistics makes you go win a national championship, I guess.”
It was a member of Brown‘s crew who kept up with the track and national points throughout the summer. He won the national title by 24 points ahead of Adams County Speedway and fellow I-80 Speedway driver Bryan Vannausdle.
“Going into the last night of I-80 points we had a pretty good idea we were going to win it,” Brown said. “Then my crew guy said, ‘Just go out and win the race and don‘t even worry about it.’ So we went and won the race and didn‘t even worry about it.
“I don‘t ever go race for points, but we show up every week. So just go get good results and the points take care of themselves. But I don‘t ever look at it, I don‘t think about it, I just go race.”
Brown was helped on the car this season by his crew chief Robert Ward, who keeps the car at his house and does the bulk of the maintenance throughout the week, and Bobby Bolter, who is in the pits on race day.
Ward was integral in Brown‘s championship this summer.
“If I didn‘t have him I wouldn‘t race,” Brown said of Ward. “I wouldn‘t ever maintenance the car, and if you don‘t maintenance the car it‘s just going to fall apart every week.
“I pretty much just get in the car and stomp and steer, and he takes care of making an idiot get around the track pretty good.”
Brown has been racing since 2006, winning seven track championships between I-80 and Iowa’s Shelby County Speedway, as well as two other regional touring series titles.
In addition to a national championship, a NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Division V Midwest Region title, and an I-80 championship in the track’s Bragging Rights Late Model division, Brown also assisted on another championship this summer. His 9-year-old son won a go-kart championship at I-80.
All the winning was made extra special because it came at the track that has meant so much to both of their racing careers.
“It‘s been like our whole life pretty much,” Brown said. “It‘s where I first started racing go-karts. I raced late models there. I‘ve even worked out there a bunch because I used to work for the owners in their salvage yard and they‘d send me out to the track a bunch with another couple guys and we‘d work at the track. I‘ve got a lot of hours working at the race track out there helping make it what it is today. And then my kid started racing go-karts out there a couple years ago and he won the championship in his kart class, so that was cool we both won the championship in the last year of I-80 Speedway.”