Brown and Starks Wage Battle for Second; Notes from Night #2 of Knoxville 360 Nationals – DTD Exclusive

By MIKE MALLETT

Brian Brown and Trey Starks didn’t really know each other coming into the 2017 Knoxville 360 Nationals. Brown, from Grain Valley, Mo., and Starks of Puyallup, Wash., haven’t raced much together. In a strange twist the pair battled on Wednesday night, not at the Knoxville Raceway but rather the go kart track just north of the speedway.

Friday night the duo got to do it for real as they first battled for the lead before Greg Hodnett slipped by them both on the bottom. At that point they duked it out for second with Brown eventually getting the better of the younger Starks.

“To be quite honest I never really knew Trey at all,” commented Brown. “A lot of these guys you see them at the races, you know what number they are but you never really get to know them as a person. Me and Trey were actually at Slideways (Karting Center) on Wednesday night and we beat the crap out of each other. He’s a really cool kid. To race him at Slideways on Wednesday then come here to race him for the lead is pretty awesome. I’m glad I didn’t do to him tonight what I did to him at Slideways because we might be visiting down at the hospital. It’s just awesome. He’s got the talent, but hasn’t always had the luck he’s needed. He’s a good kid and someone that I look for forward to watching down the road. I’m an old man in this sport now. He did a great job and he should be proud of his team.”

Brown, who’s always a fan favorite at Knoxville, started alongside Starks on the front row. Usually when Brown starts on the front row of any feature it Knoxville it’s all over. He’s going to wind up in victory lane. That wasn’t the case Friday as he was just off. He didn’t have the throttle control he needed to stay consistent throughout the A-Main.




“I’m not trying to be arrogant or trying to be cocky but I feel like when I start on the front row here I should win and when I don’t it’s usually my fault because the guys give me a quality car every time I hit the track,” said Brown. “We were having a little bit of an issue. I’m not trying to take anything away from Greg (Hodnett) because he did a great job. I was having issues inside the cockpit. A lot of times as a fan just watching you think, ‘oh gosh, those guys run around here wide open,’ you put it on the floor and go as hard as you can. That is the case sometimes, but Knoxville is very tricky when it gets around the bottom like that. You can lose your right rear a little bit on entry when you run the bottom so you need to be able to run half throttle one lap, maybe a quarter throttle maybe three-quarter throttle, maybe full throttle. I was just having a little bit of an issue with my injection where it was either all the way on or all the way off. I went down there on that restart and I went to roll on the throttle like I normally would and it just shut off like I was going to go in the pits and it took off right.”

Brown’s night came in a different car than the one he piloted last Saturday at Knoxville. He blew the engine forcing the change in rides.

Starks Heavy Foots Around the Top

Unlike Hodnett and Brown, Starks doesn’t have a lot of experience running at the Knoxville Raceway. He hasn’t had the opportunity to learn the intricacies of running the bottom. As a result he found no use for the bottom lane on Friday night choosing to keep his ride firmly planted on the cushion with his foot to the floor. The strategy didn’t get him a win, but it got him a spot on the podium in third.

“It was really fun to race with both of these guys tonight,” Starks mentioned about racing Hodnett and Brown. “They’ve obviously got a lot more laps around here than I do and the times we have come we have struggled a little bit here. They were talking about how tough it is run the bottom here. I can attest to that. That’s why I didn’t try it tonight. I was just trying to drive it as hard as I could on the top. You kind of see it coming in waves. It sped up and it slowed down, but I was just trying to drive as hard as I could.”

Knoxville 360 Nationals Night #2 Nuggets

Clint Garner was fastest in time trials a 16.186 before transferring out of his heat race. He finished fourth in the A-Main which was good enough to earn him the pole position in Saturday night’s A-Main…

The cushion was challenging early in the evening as Matt Juhl found out the hard way. Juhl hit the cushion wrong in turn four which pulled his right front tire off the bead. He slammed the outside wall causing him to give up a transfer position. He continued but failed to make it to the main event finishing 11th in the B-Main…

Brooke Tatnell didn’t even get to run a lap of the first heat as he bounced off the frontstretch wall at the green breaking the front end. He was forced to run the C-Main. He transferred from there only to see his night end with a 20th in the B-Main…

48 cars competed in Friday night’s preliminary event to go along with 43 on Wednesday for a total of 91 cars in competition…

Brown told an interesting story about his relationship with Hodnett. When Brown first got into Sprint Car racing he was given a suit by Hodnett and fellow competitor Dale Blaney. Both drivers are above average height wise, as is Brown…