ARCA standout will make his NXS debut for HScott Motorspots with Chip Ganassi this weekend.
LAS VEGAS - Brennan Poole tried to contain his auburn locks under his DC Solar Solutions ball cap at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday.
The 23-year-old Texas transplant, who grew up in California, maintains the mop is just an attempt to embrace his inner skateboard/surfer dude.
Poole, the latest addition to the Chip Ganassi fold, will need to channel that “dude” as he makes his first NASCAR XFINITY Series start in the No. 42 HScott Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro in the Boyd Gaming 300 this weekend – his first of 15 races in the car in 2015.
“There’s a lot I have to learn,” Poole told Motorsport.com. “It’s a different car, different tires, they drive differently around other cars, so there’s a lot to learn. But I expect the guys in that garage know that I’m there to beat them just like they’re going out there expecting to beat me.
"I expect to go out there and do the best that I can and put forth the best effort, put a lot of hard work into it and position ourselves the best that we can and sees how it pans out."
Poole cut his teeth in quarter midgets where he won 90 races and the 2002 National Championship. He graduated to Legends Cars and posted 96 victories in two years before transitioning to dirt. After earning seven wins and the Texas World Dirt Track Championship, The Woodlands (Tex.) native returned asphalt late models in 2009. In three seasons, Poole amassed 10 wins and the United Auto Racing Association Series Championship in 2011. That same year, Poole won at Salem (Ind.) Speedway in his ARCA debut.
I want to learn as much as I can with each race and try to improve as the year goes on.
“Winning races is all about positioning yourself at the end of the race," Poole said. "At Las Vegas we’re just going to take it one lap at a time and put ourselves in the best position we can. That’s all we can do. I want to learn as much as I can with each race and try to improve as the year goes on.”
Getting up to speed
Poole said he was “amazed” the first time he walked into Ganassi Racing. He couldn’t believe there were four cars with his name emblazoned over the door waiting for just for him or how welcoming everyone has been. He’s leaned on his crew chief Mike Shiplett and Ganassi teammates Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray “trying to get as much advice” as he can prior to his debut.
Poole has also participated in pit practice with his crew but acknowledged that green flag pit stops and time trials will be a completely new experience. At his first attempt to qualify the NXS car, Poole posted the 16th fastest lap - 180.439mph.
“They’ve told me a lot of good things,” Poole said. “Everyone has been so helpful I’ve learned so much already. I also talked to Steve Letarte last week, who offered advice about communication with my crew chief and getting through the bumps in one and two.
“After just watching these guys on TV, it’s almost surreal to be talking to these people in person. It’s just been cool taking it all in.”
A hair-raising tale
Poole jokes that his mane is not “the secret” to his on track success, which includes six wins, four poles, 18 top-five and 27 top 10 finishes in 35 career ARCA starts.
“But it may have helped me get the girl I’m seeing now,” Poole admitted. “I just wanted to grow it out. I never had a chance to growing up. I’m kind of into that skateboarding/surfer scene. I love to skateboard. They won’t let me do it as much anymore. I try to sneak it in a few times but I love surfing and wakeboarding and such. That’s just part of the culture – the long hair thing. I just got to the point in my life where I just said, ‘screw it.’ I’m going to grow it out long.
“I’ve got it tucked back now behind my ears. It’s a little out of control, a little poufy.”
If Poole can equal his earlier success, Ganassi would have no bones about Poole rocking his curls ala Dario Franchitti. Certainly, Poole isn’t going for a Ricky Stenhouse Jr. mullet-style but he isn’t certain whether he’ll push the hair to the ponytail level either.
Still, a challenge exists from his new race team.
“The guys were messing with me,” Poole said. “The said, ‘if you win, you’re going to have to shave your head.’ So we’ll see. I may have to do something. I’m just not sure yet. But they are giving me a hard time about it.”