Brandon Brown knows the odds are against him advancing beyond the first round of the Xfinity playoffs.
“If I went out and we did a survey and we asked 1,000 NASCAR fans to create a playoff bracket, I guarantee that 90 to 99 percent of them have me getting eliminated in the first round,” he told NBC Sports.
But that’s not stopping him.
Brown is in the Xfinity playoffs for the first time, earning the final spot last weekend with his family-run team. He enters Saturday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) last in the 12-driver field. Brown has 2,000 points and is 10 points behind Ross Chastain, who holds the final transfer spot, entering the first round.
Regardless where he is in the standings, Brown still met the team’s preseason goal of making the playoffs.
“It’s hard to put it into words,” the 27-year-old said of making the playoffs. “It’s so exciting and so thrilling. We’re just happy. Life is good. We’re seeing the fruits of our labor.”
Much of the Xfinity playoff focus will be on Chase Briscoe, who enters with a series-high seven wins. Or Austin Cindric, who won the regular-season title. Or Justin Allgaier, who has won three of the last seven races and could be the favorite if he makes it to the championship race at Phoenix Raceway.
Brown, who is in his second full season in the series, has four consecutive top-20 finishes going into this weekend. He knows the challenge he faces.
He said a key for this weekend is to have no mistakes, be running at the end and try to take advantage of any mistakes other playoff drivers have.
Then, he’ll look to Talladega. He’ll have an upgraded Earnhardt Childress Racing engine for that race, the team spending the extra money for the engine upgrade.
“I go into that track with confidence,” he said. “I need to go out there and make it happen, go win and make an name and go ahead and punch my ticket.”
While Brown knows most look at him as the underdog of these playoffs, he hopes to drop that title someday.
“The goal will be to get rid of that underdog title and to build that program that is going to be looked on as a powerhouse of the NASCAR Xfinity Series,” he said. “I enjoy the ride (as underdog), but now I’m ready to advance past it.”
Points entering Xfinity playoffs
2,050 – Chase Briscoe
2,050 – Austin Cindric
2,033 – Justin Allgaier
2,025 – Noah Gragson
2,020 – Brandon Jones
2,018 – Justin Haley
2,014 – Harrison Burton
2,010 – Ross Chastain
2,002 – Ryan Sieg
2,002 – Michael Annett
2,001 – Riley Herbst
2,000 – Brandon Brown
First Round races
Sept. 26 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)
Oct. 3 – Talladega Superspeedway (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)
Oct. 10 – Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC)