KNOXVILLE – Brian Brown has dominated things at Knoxville Raceway this season, winning all three times he has competed heading into Friday night’s opener at the Brownell’s Big Guns Bash featuring the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series.
The Grain Valley, Missouri driver made it “four for four” in dominating fashion, leading every step of the way in the 25-lap feature event. The win was worth $10,000 for the pilot of the Casey’s General Stores/FVP Brian Brown Racing #21. Brown became the fifteenth different winner of the season for the World of Outlaws.
Brown came from his starting spot inside row two to blow by front row starters Daryn Pittman and Shane Stewart. As he pulled away in clean air, seventh running Sammy Swindell slowed to bring out a caution two laps in. The restart saw Brown leading Pittman, Stewart, Donny Schatz and Brad Sweet.
Brown chose the inside line and pulled away again, building on his lead. The leaders entered lapped traffic on the tenth circuit. Brown continued to build his lead with Pittman maintaining second over Stewart and Schatz. Sweet pressured Schatz for the fourth spot as the two took turns battling past each other. Eventually Schatz would maintain his advantage.
Brown weaved masterfully through traffic, and was four seconds ahead of the second place car of Pittman at the checkers. Stewart followed, ahead of Schatz and Sweet. Carson Macedo, Logan Schuchart, Kraig Kinser, David Gravel and Sheldon Haudenschild rounded out the top ten. Schuchart and Macedo set quick time in their respective groups, while both were joined by Brown and Schatz as heat winners. Pittman won the Dash, and Dominic Scelzi claimed the B.
“This one’s for you Knoxville fans!” exclaimed Brown in Victory Lane. “You guys support us every Saturday night. It’s important for us to run well in front of you guys when the Outlaws are in town. I’m proud of everyone on the team. I got a really good start, and I haven’t been running the top much. I knew I was running my tires off a little bit. You don’t know how far you’re ahead. Lapped traffic got intense a couple of times. I kept my composure and here we are. We treated this like a normal week. I always thought I’d like to win my first Outlaw show at Knoxville. We’ve won them in Charlotte, Arizona and Kansas, but this one’s special. Four seconds (his lead at the checkers) felt like four-tenths of a second to us!”
“That just means he did a better job than I did,” said Pittman of Brown working well through lapped traffic. “I don’t know that they slowed me down any more than him. He just was probably a little more aggressive. He’s good here. I was unsure how far you could be behind a guy to pull the trigger on him. I know not completing the pass would kill our speed. I was maybe a little hesitant to do that. I’ve got to thank my guys. They worked their tails off. We got an engine changed before the Dash, and I went out there and the car was really good. I have to thank Dennis and Teresa (Roth). We’ve got a super race team. I’m super-excited about the direction we’re headed.”
“There’s no spots easy here with these guys,” said Stewart, who drove the CJB Motorsports #5. “We were able to get back by Donny there on the last lap, but this race was over at the green flag. Brian and those guys did a great job. We’ve been proving that every time we make the Dash, we’re in contention to win. We just have to keep making the Dashes. These are little test sessions for August. We’ll go back to the drawing board tomorrow. My guys work really hard. I wouldn’t want to be on any other team. I’m happy to be where I’m at.”
The 15-lap Pro Sprints Presented by Pace Performance feature saw a familiar early leader. Matthew Stelzer was trying to make it five in a row as he led from his pole position over Brandon Worthington and Mike Mayberry early on. Chase Young flipped in turn one with a lap in the books. He walked away.
After the restart, Worthington used the high side to drive around Stelzer, leading lap four. Five laps in, fourth running, Mike Ayers, spun in turn four. Worthington led Stelzer, Mayberry, Chris Walraven and Jeff Wilke back to green. Stelzer shot under the leader to take the point again. Worthington wasn’t going anywhere, however.
Mayberry was coming on strong, as was Evan Epperson, and along with Stelzer and Worthington, it created a mad scramble for the lead on lap nine. Mayberry shot to the bottom of turn one, sliding both Worthington and Stelzer to take the lead. He would ride the cushion and pull away from the field, leaving no doubt over the last six laps.
Mayberry’s second career win came ahead of Epperson, who grabbed second with three to go, and Worthington, who snagged third with two to go. Stelzer, Walraven, Devin Wignall, Matt Johnson, Wilke and Tanner Barrick completed the top ten. Russ Hall set quick time.