Strong First Round Places Poole in Championship Conversation
CONCORD, N.C. – Brennan Poole didn’t enter the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs among the title favorites, but that quickly changed after the Round of 12.
A fifth-place finish in Saturday’s Drive for the Cure 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway marked the Chip Ganassi Racing drivers’ third consecutive top-five to begin the post-season.
He also placed highest among championship contenders in two of three races including on Saturday night, showcasing what he could be capable of in the remaining Playoff races.
“I’m just proud of the effort,” Poole told POPULAR SPEED. “I’m proud of the fast race cars that we’re bringing to the race track.”
After only capturing one top-five in the regular season, clicking off three consecutive shows increased speed out of the No. 48 team.
Not only did Poole finish well on Saturday but he rebounded after receiving damage early in the race, attesting to the team’s resilience that could play into their title chances.
“Tonight we had to battle through a lot of adversity,” Poole told POPULAR SPEED. “The car’s torn to pieces but the guys did some great jobs repairing on it. We just never gave up, and we fought through it.”
The 26-year-old now resets sixth on the Playoff Grid to begin the Round of 8, 20 points behind leader William Byron and three behind Daniel Hemric in the final spot that advances to the season finale.
Poole’s confidence is high heading into the next set of tracks as he looks to make up the difference.
“Kansas has been a great race track for me,” Poole told POPULAR SPEED. “Of course Texas I’m excited to go to. Not only is it my home state but also being very similar to Kentucky where we were so strong at the first race. And ending up at Phoenix, a place where I have several top-10’s and just looking forward to getting into this next round and taking care of business.”
Stage racing has been a difference maker throughout 2017, and the most significant impact may come as the field is narrowed from eight to four cars in this round.
“It’s just going to come down to stage points,” Poole told POPULAR SPEED. “The field is so tight. Tonight we got caught up in an incident that kept us from getting stage points. We’re just going to have to have a little bit of luck, a little bit of things go our way since the field is so tight.”
With Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 team winning two of the first three Playoff races with Tyler Reddick at Kentucky and Alex Bowman at Charlotte, the organization’s second entry is now seemingly on the verge of victory.
“I feel like we’re more than capable of even winning a race in these next three races, we’ve been so good here recently,” Poole told POPULAR SPEED.
A strong first round delivered Poole some of his best career results and allowed him to show that he’s capable of competing for the championship.
Now it will again be about rising to the occasion in the Round of 12 and placing his team in the Championship 4 where Poole believes that he could hoist the trophy at Homestead-Miami.
“I really believe that this team has what it takes to win it all,” Poole told POPULAR SPEED.
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