By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
A late-race caution provided Brandon Brown the opportunity to move off strategy and swing for the fences at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Going Off Strategy
Brown stayed out after a nine-car accident forced a red flag with 74 laps to go. The move put the No. 68 Zero FG Energy Drink Chevrolet Camaro SS off strategy compared to the rest of the NASCAR Xfinity Series field. As the field circulated under caution, Brown led 12 laps, matching a season high from the season opener at Daytona International Speedway earlier this year.
Opportunity Knocks for the Finish
After another quick caution, the Woodbridge, VA native slipped back to ninth. Brown cruised just inside the top-10 until another caution waved with 25 laps to go. With a set of tires still in the pit box, the Brandonbilt Motorsports driver ducked onto pit road. Coming to the restart, Brown lined up 13th.
On the restart the 28-year-old jumped to eighth. Brown continued to pick off positions, stalling out in fourth with 12 laps to go. After a blistering run forward, he slid back to fifth before the checkered flag waved.
“It was just one of those things that we put on tires with few laps to go,” Brown explained to PRN post-race. “We were going to make a charge at it. Probably needed one more caution to get the field stacked back up. I drove in way over my head a couple of times with the fresh tires, trying to make the most of this and take the Zero FG car to victory lane. Just overdrove it, killed the tires, and settled into a top-five finish.
“All four corners are on the car. This this was fast, as fast as Xfinity internet. I can’t complain about it, happy to have a car in one piece.”
After post-race technical inspection, the cars of Landon Cassill, third, and Noah Gragson, fourth, were disqualified for failing heights. The disqualifications of the two drivers moved Brown up to third.
Entering New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Brown aimed to build momentum, his best finish at ‘The Magic Mile’ a 16th-place last year. His best finish of the 2022 season was eighth. Brown improved both stats. In addition to that, the 12 laps he led gives the veteran Xfinity Series driver a total of 28 led this season, the most in a single season for the Chevy Racing competitor.
“It’s great to put another tally on the board,” Brown admitted to PRN post-race. “We just want to constantly improve until we can start racing for these wins. We want to do it right, race respectfully so that when we are racing for the win that we get the same treatment.”
The timely caution at the end of the race was not the only one in which Brown’s team played the strategy game in the Crayon 200. He stayed out during a late caution in Stage 1. The move scored Brown a fifth-place finish in the Stage and an additional six points.
The third-place finish is also the fifth top-five in Brown’s career. It’s also his 19th top-10 finish.
The top-five finish moved Brown up from 15th in the championship points to 13th. He is 340-points behind leader A.J. Allmendinger. Brown is 61-points behind the cutoff for the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs, currently held by Cassill.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by NKP / NKP Photo.