‘Downtown’ Michael Brown scored an emotional win in the Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series season opener at Lancaster Speedway (SC) on Saturday night in front of a hometown crowd. He wrestled the lead away from Brett Hamm with five laps to go and held off defending series champion Ross Bailes and Chris Ferguson for his second career Carolina Clash win. He would later go on to win the Crate Late Model feature, completing the weekend sweep in Late Model competition.
Now he looks ahead to taking on another South Carolina track, Cherokee Speedway, this coming Sunday.
Brown called in to Speed51.com’s "The Morning Bullring" to talk about his win on Saturday night and this weekend’s March Madness at 'The Place Your Mama Warned You About'.
“It was huge for me,” Brown told Speed51.com’s The Morning Bullring. “In victory lane there, I kind of got choked up. You work your whole life to get to that position and you’re dream finally comes true and you win in front of your hometown crowd, it really means the world to me. I had to take a couple pauses and I was thinking man this is bad. I’m trying to thank my sponsors and hold it together.
"I got to thinking about it when I was crossing the checkered flag, all the sacrifices me and my family made, my dad made. He pretty much spent every dollar he ever made to get me to the point where I can be seen driving for other people. It really hit home when he was there to celebrate it with me.”
Brown joined forces with car owner Billy Hicks midway through 2018 and the pair immediately showed speed, but were unable to break through for their first win. After their breakthrough win together, he is feeling confident it will translate to more trips to victory lane.
“Billy Hicks was heading home from the beach and me and him had a phone conversation and the rest was kind of history,” he said. “Me and him put a plan in place and he’s held up his end of the deal and things are starting to get going. The mental power in the middle and the end of the year, we had some strong runs but we weren’t victorious like we wanted to be. We’re still trying to fill that notebook and trying to do better at telling him what I want and things like that you just kind of have to smooth over to get those big wins. It’s definitely not easy.”
Brown heads into this weekend’s Southern All Star Series March Madness at Cherokee coming off a strong run in last November’s Blue-Grey 100 before a flat tire ended his race prematurely. He says if he has a car as strong as the one from the Blue-Grey 100, he will have a strong shot at pulling into victory lane after sixty laps.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “That one was definitely a heartbreaker, just to have the car we had, set fast time and win my heat race and start from the front row and be in contention until we had that flat right rear definitely knocked the breath right out of me. Hopefully we can go back with the same notes that we used there and put the #79 on the pole again and hopefully win this time.”
The Gaffney, South Carolina track is synonymous for being one of the most challenging dirt tracks in the southeast. Brown says the competition level at Cherokee is stout and it drives like no other track he has raced at.
“I think when I first came on to the dirt scene from asphalt, it’s definitely the hardest track in the Carolinas to get a win at. The support divisions, from the 4-Cylinders up, I don’t know what’s with the place, but the competition there is just unbelievable.”
“You can kind of compare that to what the (NASCAR) Cup drivers was saying about the new package they have,” Brown continued. “It depends on the car, it is so wide open, it’s not like you have to use any sort of finesse. There is some to it, don’t get me wrong on the longer races. But it is for the most part, especially in the early part of the night, it’s everything you can give it and hope your car turns and drives off the way you need it. It demands a lot out of the car as well.”
Brown had plans to chase a points championship in the Ultimate Super Late Model Series, but his team has decided to go in another direction. The plan now is to compete locally in the Carolinas, chasing after the big payday races.
“We’ve bounced both off our heads,” he stated. “We were really going to run the Ultimate Series points but some of the races are five plus hours away and only paying four thousand dollars and things like that. From a financial standpoint, we’ve just kind of decided to hit all of the races that are around here that pay really good money. As of now, that’s really our plan, just hit all the races within three hours that pays really good money.”
Race fans unable to make the trip to Cherokee Speedway on Sunday, can watch the fast action on Speed51's Pay-Per-View broadcast. For just $24.99 you can see all the qualifying and racing action for the Southern All Star's beginning with qualifying at 2:30 p.m. ET.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: Speed51.com