Braun Racing rookie, Brian Scott, collected a NASCAR Nationwide Series career best finish of 10th in the Stater Bros. 300 at Auto Club Speedway and picked up Rookie of the Race honors.
Unlike his rookie counterparts, Scott and his No. 11 AccuDoc Solutions team needs to qualify on speed for the first five races.
Boy, did they ever deliver, being the third fastest in qualifying. Had Scott ran a second qualifying lap versus just one, he may have put himself on the pole.
"Our biggest focus has been qualifying for the first five races and to unload this good is a testament to how well these guys prepared," said Scott.
From the drop of the green, Scott ran a real smart race by settling into fourth and by Lap 30, he had worked himself up to second place.
Scott spent the next 48 laps hot on the heels of race leader, Joey Logano, trying to reel him in and make a pass for the lead.
He would try several different lines for several laps, looking to see if it made his AccuDoc Solutions Camry faster.
He would pressure Logano for several laps, just as green flag pit stops started happening on Lap 78, which brought Scott to pit road. Once he was there, his crew did work on his four tires, Sunoco, air pressure and chassis adjustments.
Scott returned to the track after pit stops in fifth, but he would drop back to 16th on Lap 80, as the adjustments to his Camry took several laps to come in.
Once Scott's Camry came in he quickly worked his way into the top-10. By Lap 84 he was running in sixth, was the fastest Toyota and just riding a rail to the front.
The second caution flag came out on Lap 88 for debris. Once pit road opened, all the lead lap cars made their second pit stops and Scott came out of the pits sitting 14th.
On the Lap 92 restart, he started 12th going to work picking off positions and 11 laps later, he was running in seventh.
The third caution came out on Lap 120 for a accident that involved Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and John Wes Townley. Scott at the time was running fifth.
When pit road opened, all the leaders would make stops. Scott came to the attention of his crew taking four tires, Sunoco fuel and removed a round of wedge from the AccuDoc Solutions Camry.
Scott came off of pit road sitting in fifth. On the Lap 125 restart, Scott started well to maintain the fifth position and held off Trevor Bayne, who was in sixth place.
Five laps later saw Scott take fourth from teammate Brian Vickers and he end up being battled by Brad Keselowski for the position.
The two battled it out till Lap 136, when Keselowski would finally be able to pass Scott for fourth and drop him back to fifth.
Scott had his AccuDoc Solutions Camry working well and holding it own as he ran in fifth. He would be challenged by Vickers for fifth and the two battled it out for the position.
Just prior to the fourth and final caution on Lap 146, Vickers was able to make a pass stick and take fifth, dropping Scott to sixth.
When pit road opened on Lap 147, the big fake was on as the leaders made it look like they would pit, but at the last second pulled back on track.
Scott's crew chief Billy Wilburn already made the decision to stay out forgo getting four tires and restarting in 19th.
Unfortunately, everyone from seventh on back on the lead lap pitted. It meant that Scott would have to battle hard on the restart to hold onto a what would be a career finish for him.
On the green—white—checkers restart, Scott battled hard, but was no match with all the fresh rubber behind him and took the checkers in 10th.
It was a career best finish for Scott, as he picked up a top 10 finish and he ran a very exciting race sitting in the top five most of the day.
Scott got as high second, never fell past 16th and had the last caution not happened, he probably would have battled to get back into the top five and would have probably finished the race sixth.
It was just awesome to see Scott run the way he did all race long and to qualify the way he did. Two down, three races to go, before the team will be able to reap the reward from there hard work through the first five races.
Scott now sits 11th in the Nationwide driver point standings, only 16 points out of 10th and 95 points from the lead.
While there was plenty of good news for Scott, there was some bad news. The wrist he injured last June at Michigan in a truck race has only been partially healed and is still broken. Unfortunately, it will require surgery to completely fix the injury.
His options are to have surgery after Vegas or to just wait till the off—season. If he has surgery, the recovery time is four to six weeks depending on the doctor he asked.
What he decides to do depends on whether or not the doctors think it would heal in a three to four week period after Vegas. If not, then he will have surgery during the off—season to repair the wrist.
Photo Credit and source of quote: braunracing.com