Dontre Graves | NASCAR Digital Media

Late-race tire strategy lifts Brandon Brown to fourth-place finish at Charlotte

CONCORD, N.C. – A gamble paid off for Brandon Brown on a steamy Saturday afternoon, earning a fourth-place finish in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

After starting 32nd in the 36-car field, the No. 68 Brandonbilt Motorsports team elected to save a set of fresh Goodyear tires in case a caution flag flew late in the 200-lap race. The team got its wish on Lap 182 when race leader Chase Briscoe spun off Turn 2 while battling with eventual winner Ty Gibbs.

Brown brought his Chevrolet in for service to put on the sticker-tire set during the caution period. On the ensuing restart, three drivers ahead of him — Noah Gragson, Justin Haley and Daniel Hemric — crashed at the entrance of Turn 1. The incident meant Brown would restart 10th, working his way up into the top five when the checkered flag flew.

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“My mindset going into this was control your own destiny,” Brown said. “… A lot of this racing is just circumstantial where you’ve gotta make the best with what’s going on. I’d like to say we would have gotten a top five even if they didn’t wreck over there, but I don’t know. It’s one of those things where you’re grateful for the opportunity, but we know we needed at least one more restart with fresher tires because we’re down in the other areas.”

It was the second top-five effort of the 2021 season for Brown. The first came at Phoenix Raceway when he scored a career-best third-place result. It was also his sixth top 10, which matches his career high.

Brown acknowledged these are the runs he needs to make the Xfinity Series playoffs once again after doing so in 2020. He sits 13th in the current standings, just outside the provisional 12-driver cutoff for the postseason.

“We’re not here to just play,” Brown said. “Given the right opportunity and the right circumstance, we’re going to pounce on it. I think they all saw that, and I think we’re earning a lot of these teams’ respect, which is definitely what’s needed.”

Brown noted he didn’t feel too confident a top-10 run was in the cards when he started the day. Driving for a smaller team, Brown hopes to take advantage of the result and show potential sponsors the team is capable of running up front on a more consistent basis.

“When we have a great day, we’re getting some media coverage out of it,” Brown said. “It’s up to us now to really take it and run it, blow it up, show it to sponsors, show it to everybody.

“With the right circumstances, we have the car to be there. But a lot of it is playing the cards right.”