Brennan Poole was one caution flag – or lack thereof – from winning his first NASCAR XFINITY Series race in Saturday’s Sparks Energy 300.
Given the circumstances, many drivers would have lost their cool, challenged the sanctioning body’s judgement or just carried a bad attitude.
Not Brennan, though. He was smiling.
Anyone curious as to how a driver could be upbeat after having their first win taken away needs only to look into Poole’s past. After all, it’s not difficult to be grateful for a good run in XFINITY when just three years earlier you had no ride.
“After 2012, I didn’t have a ride,” said Poole to Frontstretch.
Both 2013 and 2014 were trying years for Poole. Once considered a driver with immense potential, the Woodlands, Texas, native was left without a full-time ride, despite scoring two wins and a third-place points finish for Venturini Motorsports. Instead, Poole was left scraping together whatever sponsorship he could muster to score the occasional ARCA drive.
Times were tough, but Poole, or “The Bull,” as his friends call him, kept his head down and made the most of the situation.
Despite running just five races, Poole claimed two victories in 2013 in the ARCA series.
“I think I raced four races in 2013, and was able to win a couple races, and it kept me going the next year,” said Poole.
The runs helped, but Poole was still left without a ride for 2014. In fact, the then-23-year-old would need help from an old teammate and friend to score another chance.
Preparing for a 2014 ARCA race at Pocono Raceway, John Wes Townley was involved in a vicious qualifying crash that kept him out of his Venturini machine for the rest of the 2014 season.
Needing a quick replacement, Venturini turned to Poole. The aftermath of that decision would change the course of Poole’s entire life.
“John Wes Townley’s family helped me a bunch,” said Poole. “I got to fill in for him a few times in the (ARCA Racing Series) and actually got my last win in the ARCA Series, which was in Kentucky for Zaxby’s and everybody else.”
“That was really the moment that got me that little bit of extra (attention). I got a call a couple months later to see if I wanted to be a part of HScott Motorsports with Chip Ganassi Racing and the stuff that they were doing over there.”
The result? A part-time XFINITY Series run in 2015, and a full-time effort in the team’s No. 48 DC Solar Chevrolet in 2016.
“Last year, I was just in shock the whole time,” said Poole. “This year, I feel like I’ve been able to be a bit more focused. I feel like I’ve got the belief of my guys, and I trust and believe in them as well.
“We’ve been able to come out of the gates really strong. For me, that confidence boost has been what helped me run better.”
Poole continues to improve in his first full season. The 25-year old scored his first top five at Talladega, and sits an impressive eighth in the championship standings, on-target for a Chase appearance if the regular season were to end today.
Still, with memories of sitting at home, watching others drive as he yearned for a second chance all-too fresh in Poole’s mind, the young driver can’t help but cherish every moment he has behind the wheel, even when he falls just short of a big win.
“I’m just glad to be here, and grateful every week to know that I’m going to be racing,” said Poole.
“Ultimately, I want to win races, and I want to win a championship. I want to race in Sprint Cup. It’s been my dream since I was five years old. I’m just grateful that I have the opportunity to make that dream come true.”