ROSSBURG, Ohio – Owner/driver Brian Brown has been struggling a bit lately.
Heading into last week at Eldora Speedway with two $175,000-to-win Kings Royals on the line and the Knoxville Nationals looming just weeks away, Brown sensed his team needed some help. That help came in the form of his Hall of Fame uncle, Danny Lasoski.
“Last week he had a little hiccup in his team, and I was enjoying myself with my wife, in Ocala, Fla.,” Lasoski explained. “He said, ‘Man, I’d like for you to come help me.’ I said, ‘If you promise to give me 100 percent, I’ll come help you.’”
The results were undeniable. In Wednesday’s Jokers Wild, he qualified fourth in his group and earned the pole before finishing second to Carson Macedo. He earned quick time for Saturday afternoon’s 38th Kings Royal, earning a top-10 finish. He qualified ninth in that evening’s 37th Kings Royal, but missed transferring through his heat by one spot, and the same in the B-Main. Then, in Sunday’s rain-delayed Knight Before the Kings Royal, he qualified second, then was held off once again by Macedo to earn the runner-up spot.
Though he didn’t claim a win, the results showed that Brown and his Casey’s/FVP-sponsored No. 21 are back in the hunt.
“Overall, two seconds, a 10th and a couple driver errors is a good weekend for us,” Brown reflected.
However, the primary goal that has eluded Brown in previous attempts is winning the Knoxville Nationals. The four-time and defending Knoxville Raceway champion has been forced to settle for the runner-up spot three times in the Nationals. Earlier this season, Brown set a new track record at the Iowa half-mile, and hopes having four-time Nationals champion Lasoski as crew chief can help him get the job done.
So, what did Lasoski bring to the team that helped Brown achieve more speed at Eldora?
“For a long time here, we thought as a team that stuff we did five years ago won’t work anymore. We can’t do that stuff cause a year goes by and that doesn’t work,” Brown explains. “Well, that’s not necessarily true. We just kind of went back to our notebook and said, ‘This has always worked. Let’s at least make sure that won’t work before we try the next thing.’ And, we weren’t doing anything fancy. I mean you could almost probably go back to our notebook and look at 2013, 2014, and we could probably lay the notes right over the top of each other.
“And just the communication between me and Danny. I knew kind of what I thought it would be like, just because if I get struggling any time in my career I call him and say, ‘Hey, this is what’s going on,’ and he usually has a good fix. I knew if I could ever get him where he was focused 100 percent on my team, and my car, and myself, we would be a pretty potent combination.”
“We went back to basic,” Lasoski agreed. “The car’s balanced, this is the best he’s looked in a long time on a slick track. And, as you well know you’ve gotta be good on both. He’s really good on grip, and if we can get him equally as good on the slick, we’ll win our share.”
In addition to setup changes, Brown explained that he’s also leaning on his uncle for driving advice and is benefitting from, “having a driver just giving you the little bit of extra confidence of saying that you can go down there and it will stick, or ‘Hey, in the first 10 laps you probably need to be on this part of the track.”
Brown expressed his eagerness to get back to Knoxville, where Lasoski tops the track’s win list with 112 career feature victories. They’ve got three weeks to prepare for the biggest sprint car event of the year.
Brown’s father is also serving on the crew, and while observing the team in action throughout the nights of racing at Eldora, it was evident that – while there is no shortage of intensity – it is a crew that is enjoying this time working together.
“To me, if you can’t have a good time with two of your best buddies, your dad and your uncle, it’s time to go do something different,” Brown explained. “And, who gets to go to work with their dad and their uncle every day?”
As for Lasoski?
“I’m just really, really thankful that I’m racing with someone who’s got the same desire to win that I do,” he said with a smile, “because I’ve been miserable for the last couple years.”
So, Brian Brown Racing left Rossburg, Ohio, in good spirits, with renewed confidence, ready to gear up for the Nationals.
“Just give me a car at Knoxville that’s in the hunt and let me make up the difference. That’s kind of what I want,” Brown says. “I don’t need a rocket ship; just give me a good solid car that can run the bottom and the top and a guy like Danny in my corner to make sure that I’m making all the right decisions on the track and it could be a lethal combination…it’s gonna be a fun next month, I believe.”