After near miss, Scott seeks Richmond rebound
April 24, 2014, Zack Albert, NASCAR.com
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RICHMOND, Va. -- Brian Scott hasn't had an extensive history of success at Richmond International Raceway. Perhaps that's what made his performance in the NASCAR Nationwide Series here last September such an anomaly and a heartbreaker all in one.
Scott gets his shot at redemption in Friday night's ToyotaCare 250 (7 p.m. ET, ESPNEWS), aiming to end a string of 20 straight Nationwide victories at Richmond by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars. The fact that he came oh-so-close to interrupting that win streak nearly eight months ago is both a source of encouragement and dismay.
"I'm just frustrated and mad that we didn't get to Victory Lane last fall here," Scott said Thursday afternoon before opening practice at the 0.75-mile track. "I've got a chip on my shoulder, and I want to get out here this spring and show that we can dominate a race just like we did last fall here, and that we can get it done in the closing laps as long as we don't have any misfortune and bring home the checkered flag this time."
Scott entered the track's most recent 250-lapper with no finishes better than 14th in eight Richmond appearances. But when his Richard Childress Racing crew unloaded his No. 2 Chevrolet last September, he knew he had a competitive ride for the weekend.
Scott secured the Coors Light Pole Award and led the first 239 laps before giving way to eventual winner Brad Keselowski on a controversial late-race restart. Scott took exception to what he perceived as a jump on the green flag by Keselowski, a setback that left him settling for second place and extending what he termed a "bittersweet love affair" with the Richmond track, which included a post-race kick below the belt from rival Nelson Piquet Jr. after this event last year.
"Up until last year, I never liked Richmond. I think statistically, it had been my worst race track," said Scott, whose tune changed after joining the Childress team before the 2013 season and reaping the benefit of its short-track strength. He'll be racing the same car he drove here last September come Friday night, boosting his optimism.
"I have a lot of confidence here now. ... I feel like they made my life a lot easier here last fall because we unloaded right off the truck really well, and this is a place that can be challenging to practice."
Entering this race last season, Scott ranked in a tie for fourth in Nationwide Series standings, just nine points out of the lead. This season, the 26-year-old native of Boise, Idaho, stands 46 points off the top in sixth place.
While he hasn't had any dismal performances in 2014, Scott has just one finish in the top 10 and five finishes on the fringes of it -- results that haven't necessarily been indicative of his team's showings.
"I actually feel like our team has been more competitive in races, we just haven't finished," Scott said. "Last year, we were able to get finishes better than what we were running. This year, we've been running better and finishing worse. I feel like our team, we've been fast, we're more capable than we were last year. We've just got to quit giving away positions at the end of races and finish where for the most part we run. Really, toward the end of races is a great opportunity and one where we should be moving forward and not backward."
Scott is also moving forward with his limited schedule in the Sprint Cup Series. He's competed in three of the first five races in NASCAR's premier division this year, following his lone start of 2013 -- a 27th-place finish in his Sprint Cup debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the fall.
The top level of NASCAR has been a dream, Scott says, ever since he first turned the wheel in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2007. His next starts in the series are scheduled next weekend at Talladega Superspeedway and Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte -- the next two steps at achieving his ultimate goal.
"I've got my eyes on, I'd like to be in the Sprint Cup Series next year," Scott said. "Obviously, we've got to perform this year both on the Nationwide side and in the opportunities that we have at the Cup side. Hopefully we can have good runs and get more opportunities."