All Star Circuit of Champions

Inside Brian Brown's Tuscarora 50 Triumph: 'The Biggest Win Of My Life'

Inside Brian Brown's Tuscarora 50 Triumph: 'The Biggest Win Of My Life'

Brian Brown called Thursday's $62,000 Tuscarora 50 triumph at Port Royal Speedway "the biggest win of my life."

Oct 6, 2023 by Kyle McFadden

Donning a megawatt smile as the Tuscarora 50’s newest champion, Brian Brown didn’t have to think even a split second if he had just won the biggest race of his Sprint Car career.

“It’s the biggest win of my life,” the 43-year-old Brown said. “I can say that with pride. I’m just as happy when I won Selinsgrove’s ($20,000 Jim Nace Memorial in 2017) than I am now. I don’t think it’s set in that I won the Tuscarora 50. I think I’m so happy I won at Port Royal, the money’s going to be good when we get that $60,000. And the trophy is 10-foot tall. Yeah, unbelievable.”

Those who know Brown’s finest accomplishments might think, what about his Knoxville Nationals success in both the 410 and 360? The Grain Valley, Mo., native doesn’t have a coveted Knoxville Nationals to show for, but he’s won prelim nights and a 360 Nationals while finishing second in The Granddaddy of Them All three times, good enough for a $75,000 paycheck.

But the Tuscarora 50, which has grown in popularity and stature as one of the prized events to win in Sprint Car racing these days, tops anything and everything Brown’s ever won.

“I was talking to my guys, winning the Knoxville Nationals prelim night, when it’s a packed house and all your partners are there, it can be a little tricky,” Brown began. “Winning the 360 Nationals, that’s big. But that’s on our home turf. Winning the race that pays $60,000 on somebody else’s turf is huge.”


WATCH: Highlights from Thursday's Tuscarora 50 feature at Port Royal Speedway.

Brown and his personally-owned, Casey’s General Stores-backed race team have been venturing from their Midwest base to Central Pennsylvania’s year-end slate of big races now for the better part of the last decade, really since 2012. Many, if not most, of these year-end trips have not been fruitful.

From 2012 through ’20, Brown managed to win only twice, both in 2017 with the highlight being Selinsgrove’s $20,000 Jim Nace Memorial. He did win a pair of features in 2021 and ’22 in Central Pennsylvania, but none of consequence (weekly shows at Williams Grove Speedway and Selinsgrove).

With that said, Brown’s often wondered if he’s labored in vain when it comes to translating his five-time-championship prowess at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway to Central Pennsylvania’s assortment of red-clay ovals. After all, these year-end trips do cost Brown roughly $15,000 to $20,000.

“You have to run good to make it make sense,” Brown said. “It’s crazy.”

But beneath the meager win totals, Brown’s slowly progressed in Central Pennsylvania through the years, especially with Danny Lasoski as crew chief through the end of last year. While majority of the notebook he built with Lasoski is no longer applicable (Hoosier’s new rear tires a main reason for that), he hasn’t discounted his increase in confidence and comfort.

“Like, setup-wise, I ran second last year on the Night Before the Tuscarora 50 chasing Lance (Dewease) … I put that setup when we ran (Port Royal’s) Labor Day Saturday show (on Sept. 2), and got lapped in seven laps,” Brown said. “So, it’s like, take that and s— can that. We’re starting back from scratch.

“Stuff that worked last year, we can’t use that this year. It doesn’t work like that, especially with the tires. I feel like, being able to run the top like that, having confidence racing here pays dividends.”

An inordinate number of scenarios went right for Brown to propel him to this biggest win of his career, starting with leveraging his eighth-fastest qualifying lap to leverage invert and start on the front row of — and ultimately win — his heat race. The Tuscarora 50 format inverted the top-12 drivers in the two 27-car groups on Thursday across three heat races.

“Nobody wants to hear this, but you don’t want quick time,” Brown said. “You really want to be seventh through 12th. You’re on the front row of the heat and gives you a good chance. There’s no benefit to having quick time. When I got eighth quick, I was grinning. Step one was done, and I just had to win the heat.”

In the feature, everything practically fell Brown’s way: from Brent Marks shockingly crashing out of the lead — and Brown narrowly missing Marks’ spinning machine — to Rico Abreu and Buddy Kofoid enduring mechanical issues to fall out of second.


WATCH: Brian Brown talks about why he makes the annual year-end trip to Central Pennsylvania

Then, as he suddenly made his way to second with eight laps to go, Brown got the caution he needed to dislodge young Chase Randall from the lead via an aggressive maneuver on the ensuing restart.

“It was now or never,” Brown said of his race-winning pass of Randall. “I didn’t want to crash him, but I was willing to do whatever it took those last seven laps to win that race. … You’re committed and there’s no coming back. You across and you make that guy think, ‘Do I want to push the issue here and crash, or do I want to lift and try to get a little closer?’

“I just gave him enough room. I could see him out of the corner of my eye. We didn’t touch. But it was very, very close. If I don’t do that, I’m not going to beat him.”

Even down to the last lap, when Brown sensed he was running short on fuel, one last push of fortune was required to take him to victory.

“I was like, ‘Don’t take this from me this way,’” Brown said. “But I can’t wait to celebrate and wake up in the morning knowing we won the Tuscarora 50. … I just want the guys to enjoy it. I don’t care what happens tomorrow. We’ll get it ready to race no matter what, but we’re not just going to load this thing up and hurry to the hotel. We’re going to enjoy it. This is a Crown Jewel. It’s unbelievable.”

From afar, based on how Thursday’s chaotic race fell into place for Brown, onlookers may chalk up sheer luck as Brown’s guide to $62,000. But Brown says otherwise, that he and his crew were very deliberate in preparing for Thursday’s pressured-packed race.

After a disappointing Williams Grove National Open last weekend, they skipped Tuesday’s High Limit Sprint Car Series race at Bridgeport Motorsports Park to have a full four days to regroup. It paid off.

“As I said on the house mic, this is for my crew,” Brown said. “When you start fourth at Williams Grove last week and run 14th, you leave there with your stomach in knots, like can we even do it anymore? Those guys woke up Sunday morning saying, ‘Let’s skip (the High Limit Sprint Car Series race at) Bridgeport and get ready for Port Royal.’

“But they come to work like we won 10 in a row. To me, that keeps my confidence and my mental state very, very good. That we’re just a race away from turning this around. If you believe you can, you can. If you believe you can’t, you can’t. We believe we could, and here we are.”