DAYTONA BEACH, FL (WMBF) - Brandon Brown had plenty of hope. His problem, his speed didn't match that hope Friday morning.
Brown, a Coastal Carolina University sophomore, had the ninth slowest practice time, good enough for 34th. The NextEra Energy Resources 250 field was only going to include the fastest 27 drivers. Brown wasn't on the bubble. He wasn't close to the bubble.
Friday afternoon, everything changed. Brandon Brown's No. 86 truck found speed. It was enough to fly past a dozen drivers and qualify 22nd for Friday night's race.
Brown's trip to Daytona Beach, Florida was complete. He was going to get to race at Daytona International Speedway with some of NASCAR's best truck racers.
Brandon Brown wasn't finished. He wasn't satisfied with a spot in the field. In a race that featured two crashes in the final eight laps that knocked out half of the field, Brown survived. He was able to turn situations that looked like race ending crashes into near misses.
His reward, a fourth place finish.
"Oh my god," Brown exhaled after the race, standing in his pit stall trying to soak in what had just happened. "This is amazing."
In his excitement, Brown had a special message for his CCU fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon.
"I love you guys," he shouted, partly in joy, partly in relief that his accomplishment was complete. "I thank you so much for your support. It's the best school I've ever attended. I've never been backed so much, by my school, by my fraternity brothers, by everybody on campus."
He even made a promise, he plans to get his truck to Coastal Carolina's campus. His teammates may have other thoughts. They may want to get the bumps and scrapes worked out so Brandon can take it on another wild ride to a top five finish.
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