Knoxville Paradise to Brian Brown
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin on August 6, 2013 | 5:07 P.M. EST
Brown finished second in last year's Knoxville Nationals. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
KNOXVILLE, Iowa - Like most sprint car drivers, there is no other place in the world Brian Brown would like to spend an extended stay at other than Knoxville Raceway.
Brown, a two-time Knoxville 410 track champion, is one of many drivers who are spending over a week racing at Knoxville, competing in this past weekend's 360 Knoxville Nationals and then the 53rd annual Knoxville Nationals which kick off Wednesday.
"My wife wouldn’t agree but if I could choose 10 days to go anywhere in the world on vacation, I wouldn’t go to Hawaii, I wouldn't go to Australia, I wouldn't go to Aruba. I would be in Knoxville, Iowa," Brown said on MotorRacingNetwork.com's "Winged Nation" show. "I truly believe that. It’s something I believe in my heart that’s near and dear and I wouldn’t change places with anybody in the world."
So far this season, Brown has four wins at Knoxville (one in the "360") with the last one coming July 27 before the start of Southern Iowa Sprintweek. He's made 23 starts with the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series in 2013 and finished second back in June when the tour first rolled into Knoxville.
"We're probably the most prepared as a team that we've ever been," said Brown, who rallied from 19th to finish fourth last Saturday night in the "360" at Knoxville. "They're probably as amped up as I am and there are no other guys I'd rather go to battle with than the guys I have assembled. We're trying not to get our hopes up too high. We know we're going to do our best and whatever happens, the sun is still going to come up in Marion County on Sunday morning after the Nationals."
Heading into the 360 Nationals, Brown had posted a 1.5 average finish in six starts in races in Iowa and Minnesota.
"We were really good in April and May, and then we kind of did what every racer does: try and reinvent the wheel and say, 'OK, how can we get better?' " Brown said. "We got off-base a little bit and in the last couple weeks, we just bared down and asked, 'What were we doing in April and May that made us so good?' These last two or three weeks have been really solid."
Brown followed the 360 Nationals with a win Monday night at Southern Iowa Speedway. But his main concern was for Tony Stewart, who suffered a broken tibia and fibula in a multi-car accident on Lap 25 while leading. (Read More)
"Won the Front Row challenge tonight at Osky (Oskaloosa, Iowa). Thoughts are with 'Smoke,' though," Brown tweeted. "Not the way we wanted to win. Great job by the boys."
Brown has a lot of track time at Knoxville over his career and last year, he came up a half-car length shy of taking home the trophy in the Nationals behind race winner Donny Schatz.
"I think the biggest thing is when we go there, we're able to try something maybe a little bit different - kind of keep the same base line but for the feature this week, let’s try this and then come back on Monday and say, 'OK, I was better in this situation, but it hurt me on this part of the track,' " Brown said. "Just build up our notebook. Come Saturday at the Knoxville Nationals, we can go to our notebook and say this is where we've been best all year long."
One of Brown's primary sponsors, FVP, will be sponsoring this week's Nationals along with live "Winged Nation" shows each night at the track.
"There’s nothing like a little added pressure, is there?" Brown said. "It’s unbelievable. I don’t think there's any company in the country spending more on sprint car racing right now. Along with the Nationals, they sponsor several races throughout the year and it’s (a partner) I’m very, very proud to be associated with. It's a five-year partnership and we work really hard to build a brand. It's an honor to have them on my car and it’s an honor to have them at the Knoxville Nationals."
With points being accumulated during Wednesday's and Thursday's qualifying nights - with a perfect being 500 (quick time, heat win, feature win), Brown's game plan is simple.
"Every time you hit the track, just run the best you can," he said. "You don’t have to be the fastest car on the planet at that time. Just do what you have to do to gain as many points as you possibly can. If you do that, I think it will all pan out."
Motor Racing Network's "Winged Nation" will be live at Knoxville Raceway with four special programs, streaming nightly Wednesday through Saturday from 6-7 p.m. (CT) at MotorRacingNetwork.com.