The Camping World SRX Series was started with grassroots racing in mind, noted by the schedule consisting of exclusively short tracks and a local favorite invited to compete with the all-star cast of drivers. The series’ commitment to local short track racing can’t be highlighted any better than with this weekend’s “Balboa” driver Brian Brown, who will pull double-duty Saturday night.
Along with competing in the SRX event at Knoxville Raceway, he will also climb in his familiar Casey’s General Store No. 21 Sprint Car to compete with the weekly division, where he sits at the top of the points standings.
The four-time Knoxville 410 Sprint Car track champion explains how his race day will play out with running with both SRX and Sprint Cars.
“With the Sprint Car, I’m going to hot lap and qualify pretty early and that kind of sits idle until after the SRX race. It’s split up enough to where the guys there will be able to see what we do and it’s a good opportunity for me to run both classes and really have fun,” Brown explained. “That’s the main thing for me and what I’ve touched on, I want to have fun no matter what happens."
Brown has been looking forward to Saturday’s SRX race at Knoxville ever since receiving the call from Ray Evernham inviting him to compete with the new series. As race week has approached, the excitement has become more and more real.
"I’ve been looking forward to this ever since I got told I would get the opportunity to do this, and when it got announced it just got even more exciting. Now that we’re getting closer, it’s just a bit surreal, there’s a lot of really good race car drivers with a lot of accolades that I get to go up against. A lot of them are my heroes, you don’t very often get to race against Daytona 500 winners and NASCAR champions, and the latest Indy 500 winner. I’m definitely excited about it."
With the second race of the SRX season set for this weekend at Knoxville, Brown has to follow up multi-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby’s win in the inaugural event at Stafford Motor Speedway last Saturday.
While he believes he won’t have the same home track advantage that Coby enjoyed due to the differences between an SRX car and a Sprint Car, he says Coby’s win last weekend gave him an extra boost of confidence going into the weekend.
"There’s probably more pressure than anything. When I met Doug at the media day in Charlotte he was pretty confident he could win. He said ‘I plan on winning the first one. He backed it up and he definitely gave me a little more confidence and I thought I would have a little bit more of an advantage."
“With Doug versus me, Doug is accustomed to a similar type car on that track, where with me it’s a dirt track where I’ve won a lot of races but I’ve never ran anything with fenders. It’s like am I going to have an advantage or not? I couldn’t really tell you. Probably a guy like Scott Bloomquist would probably have more of an advantage than me just because he’s raced on dirt at Knoxville, he’s a legend and he’s ran in a fendered car before.”
Brown has earned 60 410 Sprint Car wins over the course of his Knoxville Raceway career, having won the Knoxville 360 Nationals and the Capitani Classic. He had finished second in the Knoxville 410 Nationals three years in a row from 2012-2014, but has yet to win the facility’s biggest race.
Compared to the Knoxville Nationals, Brown is feeling next to no pressure going into Saturday’s SRX show. While he wants to perform with racing’s biggest stars in town, he isn’t putting added pressure on himself to run well.
“With the Nationals, I think there’s a little bit more pressure because I’m expected to run well there, where with this is yeah, I’m kind of expected to run well but if I don’t it’s not the end of the world-type situation for our partners and sponsors. The Knoxville Nationals is our biggest event and our partners’ biggest event too. We have to produce on a stage like the Nationals. We want to this weekend as well, it’s a huge event live on CBS and I’m running my Sprint Car the same night, too. If we can have good nights, it would be good for all our partners.
"To me, I’ve already gotten the experience of being included in this type of event. I feel like no matter what happens, if I win by three laps or if I’m three laps down, Rick Hendrick’s not going to be calling me Monday morning and hire me, or I’m not going to lose my Sprint Car ride if I’m three laps down. I’m not going to put a lot of pressure on myself, I’m happy with what I’m doing for a living driving Winged Sprint Cars. This is an awesome opportunity to have some fun with some guys I would’ve never dreamed I would be on the track with and see how we can compare."
The Camping World SRX Series season continues Saturday at Knoxville Raceway at 8 p.m. ET, televised on the CBS Television Network and streamed on Paramount+. Joining Brown will be an all-star cast of drivers including Helio Castroneves, Tony Stewart, Bill Elliott, Michael Waltrip, Bobby Labonte, Willy T. Ribbs, Ernie Francis, Jr., Paul Tracy, Hailie Deegan, Marco Andretti and Scott Bloomquist.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Mike Arning – TrueSpeed PR