Boise's Brian Scott ready for Sprint Cup debut

The Boise driver will start 19th after turning a lap at 192.02 mph.

bmurphy@idahostatesman.comOctober 11, 2013 

Brian Scott and team owner Richard Childress chat on pit road prior to a Nationwide Series race at Richmond International Raceway.

COURTESY OF LEASE CREDIT HAROLD HINSON PHOTOGRAPHY / RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING

The bright lights of Charlotte Motor Speedway are a far cry from the racing conditions at the Owyhee Motorcycle Club, but on the eve of his NASCAR Sprint Cup debut, Brian Scott hasn’t forgotten his roots.

“A little small dirt track,” Scott said of the course where he got his start. “Racing together with my dad. We had lots of fun there.”

Scott, a 25-year-old Boise native and Boise High graduate, has steadily risen through the ranks since the days he spent racing mini sprints with motorcycle engines.

On Saturday, he’ll reach the highest level — his first race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Scott, in the No. 33 Shore Lodge Chevrolet, qualified Thursday and will start 19th in the Bank of America 500.

His goals are ambitious and realistic: run all the laps, stay on the lead lap, be competitive with fellow first-timer Kyle Larson and finish in the top 20.

“I have a lot to overcome and a lot to figure out,” he said.

Scott drove 200 miles in the car last week, his first time in the Sprint Cup car, which differs from the cars he runs on the Nationwide circuit. Many of his competitors Saturday night have logged hundreds of thousands of miles in Sprint Cup cars, including 400 miles last week in Kansas.

In Nationwide cars, Scott said, drivers try to carry momentum into the corners and carry the highest center corner speed. In Sprint Cup cars, he said, drivers must figure out how to get into the corners, get the car to turn and hook up the rear tires.

“That suits me more. It’s more what I grew up doing. It’s more what I’m better at,” he said. “Sprint Cup cars are a lot like the sprint cars that I grew up racing on dirt.”

Scott started racing at 12 with his dad, Joe. They won races at Owyhee, which led to bigger races in Washington and California.

“I got hooked,” he said.

He spent four years racing mini sprint cars and moved to sprint cars at 16.

But his family — Scott is the great-grandson of Joe and Kathryn Albertson — didn’t want him to spend hours in the garage, working on cars. They crafted a schedule around school and brought in others to build and maintain cars.

“I had all intentions and plans of going to college,” he said.

In 2006, his senior year at Boise High, he won a sprint car race and the success on the track changed his plans.

“There were a lot of things that appealed to me about trying to be a pro race car driver,” he said.

So on the day he graduated from high school, Scott moved to North Carolina to be closer to the action and work with people to mentor and guide his career in the asphalt ranks.

The progression from there to here has not been unlike a minor-league baseball player’s path to the big leagues. He raced super late models, then on the Pro Cup series and the ARCA Racing Series. A big break came at the end of 2007 when Scott’s father purchased a team in NASCAR’s Truck series.

Scott raced on the circuit full-time in 2008 and 2009, winning a race at Dover.

“There’s a lot of racers out there that are not fortunate enough to have a family situation to stick with you. There’s tough lessons you’re going to learn. And my family, without them, I wouldn’t have got the opportunity or had the ability to make it through some of the rough times,” Scott said.

Scott moved to the Nationwide Series full-time in 2010 and finished runner-up in rookie of the year. He finished eighth in points in 2011 and ninth in 2012.

In the offseason he moved from Joe Gibbs Racing to Richard Childress Racing — with the expectation that he would get some races in the Sprint Cup — and is currently seventh in the Nationwide standings. Scott will race in the Nationwide event Friday night in Charlotte.

“He’s a really competitive person. He wants nothing in the world more than to succeed. He’s pushed our team to be better,” said Phil Gould, his crew chief on the Nationwide Series. “In practice, he wants to be the fastest car. He wants to sit on the pole every week. You see his passion. Sometimes you see it when things don’t go well, but that’s just passion.”

Scott had his best race of his Nationwide career at Richmond in September. He led 239 laps, but lost the lead on a late restart and finished second.

“That was the most demoralizing race I’ve ever competed in or taken part in. It’s not often in racing that you get a car that’s dominant. The stars don’t align like that,” Scott said.

Restarts, he said, are the area he’d like to improve the most.

He knows he’s likely to add to that list after this week’s race.

“One of the best things about being with Richard Childress Racing is the little bit of piece of mind that the car is going to be close,” Scott said. “That will allow me to focus and know the areas I need to work on.”

Brian Murphy: 377-6444, Twitter: @MurphsTurph

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