Daytona dreaming: Brian Scott makes 500 debut

The Boise native will drive the No. 33 car in NASCAR's biggest event.

bmurphy@idahostatesman.comFebruary 23, 2014 

Brian Scott will drive the No. 33 Whitetail Chevrolet in Sunday's Daytona 500.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

During one of the few breaks in the busiest and most important week of his professional career, Brian Scott spent some time at the kids' playground at a North Carolina Chick-Fil-A.

It wasn't exactly optimal prep for Sunday's Daytona 500, but his 3-year-old step-daughter wanted to play - and Brielle's interest in the jungle gym far outstripped her cares about the Great American Race.

The 26-year-old Scott, a Boise native and Boise High graduate, makes his first Daytona 500 start Sunday. He will start 12th in the 43-car field in the orange Whitetail No. 33 Chevrolet. It is his second Sprint Cup Series race.

Daytona continues a big start to 2014 for Scott, who married girlfriend Whitney Kay on January 25 at McCall's Shore Lodge.

"If there's anything that has really changed, it's been that perspective of what he does for a job and how serious it is and being a father, you have to be selfless," said Whitney Kay Scott, Brielle's mother. "You have to put someone else before yourself."

On their first date, the couple - who were introduced by mutual friends - met in a cold parking lot. When Whitney said she'd like some hot chocolate, Scott took her to his unfinished house (and not Starbucks, her guess for their intended destination) and made her hot chocolate.

They talked for hours.

"He's very down to earth. He wasn't showy," Kay Scott said of Brian, the great-grandson of Joe and Kathryn Albertson. "He was just a plain good guy. He likes to have fun, but deep down - and it takes a while to get there - he's a big teddy bear. I could kind of tell that when I first met him."

She had experience with racing. Her father worked in the business for years, including time as Rusty Wallace's gas man. She didn't like the sport much as a kid.

"I hated it, absolutely hated it. I wanted nothing to do with it. It was so boring to me," Kay Scott said. "But it's definitely a sport you can learn to love. If you have someone you're rooting for, it becomes very exciting and I get very involved."

Scott, who had success in local and regional races since he began at 12, left Boise on the day of his high school graduation to chase a racing career. He has made steady progress through the ranks, becoming a full-time driver on the Nationwide Series, NASCAR's second-best level, in 2010.

Scott finished eighth in points in 2011, ninth in 2012 and seventh in 2013. He placed 17th in Saturday's Nationwide Series season opener at Daytona. He has yet to win a race in 143 Nationwide starts.

Now comes the race that everyone in the sport dreams of winning.

"I don't think how big of a deal the Daytona 500 is has sunk in," Scott said earlier in the week.

Despite his lack of experience at the Sprint Cup level - and the pressures of competing at the Daytona 500 - Scott is comfortable with his chances as one of four Richard Childress Racing cars in the field.

Cars are often bunched together in restrictor-plate races at NASCAR's superspeedways, including Daytona's 2.5-mile trioval. It leads to exciting, tight races - and, often, big wrecks.

"Pretty much everyone runs the same speed. You can have upsets and have some unknown, underfunded teams win," Scott said. "Draft is such a big equalizer, for a driver like myself with my lack of experience in the Sprint Cup car. Anyone can pull off an upset like Trevor Bayne's."

Bayne won the 2011 Daytona 500 in just his second Sprint Cup Start. He finished 17th in his first start. And Bayne didn't even run a full Sprint Cup season in 2011.

No wonder Scott, who is making his second Cup start, who finished 27th in his first start and who is slated to race four other Cup events this year, can see the similarities.

His wife has certainly considered the possibilities.

"I definitely think about that - how fast everything will hit him, how big of a deal it would be, how exciting it will be if he does win it," Kay Scott said. "I'm sure he thinks about it. I'm sure it's in the back of his head."

Brian Murphy: 377-6444, Twitter: @MurphsTurph

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