Sunday was Brian Scott’s greatest day in Sprint Cup racing — no ifs, ands or buts about it.
When Sunday’s green flag dropped, Scott had never earned a top-10 finish in NASCAR’s premier series. His best finishes to date were 12th place showings earlier this year at Fontana and last year at Kansas. And in three previous starts at Talladega Superspeedway, his finishes were 42nd, 43rd and 30th.
But Sunday was different. He scored a second at Talladega Superspeedway — his best career Sprint Cup finish (By comparison, Scott had 208 career starts in the Xfinity Series and hasn’t won in NASCAR’s junior league, but did have four runner-up finishes.)
In addition, Scott’s teammate Aric Almirola had his first top-10 and best finish of the season (eighth).
It marked the best overall finish for RPM team this season and the team’s best Talladega finish since Kasey Kahne was second in 2009.
“We had a team meeting before the race,” Scott said after the race. “We knew that we were going to have to be perfect.
“We were going to have to have no mistakes on pit road, going to have to have a fast Ford, keep good track position all day and try to make friends throughout the race so they would work with us at the end, and our game plan was really just executed really well.
“The guys did a great job on pit road. We had a really solid car. Roush Yates Engines were amazing today and we were able to show our speed to a lot of the field, and when it came down to the finish or the restart there at the end, lucky enough to have Denny Hamlin and some guys work with us to give us an opportunity at the win.”
Scott’s and Almirola’s respective finishes were a boost to the RPM, which has struggled all season.
“A good finish always helps,” Scott said. “It helps with the team, it helps with the guys at the shop – the morale – just trying to get any bit of a bright spot in this year has been difficult, and I think that this is by far the brightest spot that we’ve had in a really challenging year for Richard Petty Motorsports.
“I guess the results and what this does for us going forward is yet to be determined, but I’m just proud. The guys have worked hard all year. They’ve deserved a lot better finishes than we’ve given them, and I’m just proud to deliver a good, solid top five, to do my job behind the wheel to give us a shot at the win, just have a good day for Richard Petty Motorsports.”
Scott’s runner-up finish was helped by a late push from Hamlin, who finished third and advanced to the Round of 8.
“I was thankful to have Denny,” Scott said, adding with a laugh, “I don’t know if playing golf with him occasionally helps or not, but, yeah, that’s always a fear of mine.
“When you have a yellow sticker (indicating a rookie Cup driver) on your bumper normally people avoid you like the plague. They go elsewhere, and there was a lot of opportunities where I felt guys tried to do it, but I had a great spotter in Stevie Reeves and was able to block and do the right things to keep our Goody’s Ford with good track position towards the front.
“I don’t know, maybe because this is an elimination race it changed the way Denny raced at the end, but he gave me a great push and gave me an opportunity to get a run at (race winner Joey Logano).
“I just probably didn’t do everything I was supposed to get a strong enough run or back away from him as much as I could have, and just couldn’t get to his quarter panel, but it was exciting there at the end.”