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Will Brown Posts Impressive Top-Three Lap in Practice for Sonoma Cup Debut

The eight-time Supercars winner ranked third-quickest on the practice charts Friday, behind only defending champion Ryan Blaney and Ty Gibbs.


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Since Shane van Gisbergen's surprise victory on debut last Summer at the Chicago Street Course, the NASCAR Cup Series has been riddled with appearances by drivers who have made their names in Supercars.

Will Brown is the latest to venture across the globe for a debut in NASCAR's National Series, partnering with Richard Childress Racing to drive the No. 33 MobileX Chevrolet Camaro in Sunday's Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma.

The 26-year-old native of Toowoomba, Queensland didn't pull any punches either, immediately leaping into the top five on the timesheet in the opening minutes of Friday's extended NASCAR Cup Series practice.

As the 50-minute practice session continued and drivers began testing the limits of the newly repaved road course, the times at the top of the scoring pylon began to get quicker, eventually dipping into the mid-73-second range.

On his 20th lap of practice around the 1.99-mile road course, and therefore his 20th lap in a NASCAR Cup Series vehicle, Brown laid down a lap time of 73.389 seconds (97.617mph), placing the No. 33 in third place -- behind only defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney and Ty Gibbs.

"The simulators work great for me at the GM Tech Center, but the guys back home in Australia race hard and it's fairly similar cars, so I felt pretty good coming into the weekend," Brown told Jamie Little of FOX Sports. "I've watched a lot of what SVG is doing, but I've worked with him a lot, so it's great to have him as a spotter this weekend."

It's a fantastic start to the weekend for the eight-time Supercars winner, who as of this weekend, leads the point standings in his first season competing for Triple Eight Race Engineering.

With the amount of speed displayed by the Richard Childress Racing driver in Friday's practice, there's no reason to believe he won't be a threat for a top-five starting spot, or potentially even the pole.

Should Brown, the driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet, capture the Busch Pole Award on Saturday, he would become the first driver to secure the pole in their NASCAR Cup Series debut since Dick Hutcherson in March 1964.

To accomplish this feat, Brown will have to adapt pretty quickly, as the more experienced NASCAR Cup Series drivers will have a better gauge of how to maximize their vehicles, whereas an inexperienced driver wouldn't.

"There's still a long way to go yet, it's a good start," Brown said. "Still got a lot of learning to do in the car and how to race it, but we'll see where we end up tomorrow."

With a race-winning crew chief in Keith Rodden and a race-winning spotter (albeit as a driver) in Shane van Gisbergen, Brown has a legitimate shot at recording a solid finish in Sunday's Toyota / Save Mart 350.

And, should the stars happen to align perfectly -- just like they did last July for Van Gisbergen, the three-time Supercars champion -- the NASCAR Cup Series could easily see its eighth foreign-born winner, and its eighth driver to win on debut.

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