By Dustin Albino

A mere two years ago, Brennan Poole didn‘t know if he would ever race again. He wasn‘t competing full time and was coming off the most difficult time of his life, losing his mother unexpectedly.

There were many times when he was left wondering if he would race again. He wouldn‘t go down without swinging for the fences.

“In my heart, I never wanted to give up and never wanted to stop,” Poole said. “I‘ve always loved driving cars, competing in racing. It‘s been fun the last several years trying to take a car that everyone thinks is not capable of winning and putting it in a position to win. I feel like I‘ve been able to do that several times over the last several years.

“I believe that I‘m one of the best guys here. You have to believe that in order to have success and have the confidence to make moves and make decisions that you need to make.”

Fast forward two years and Poole is arguably now in the best position of his career. He‘s back to full-time Xfinity Series competition with Alpha Prime Racing.

“I will say that this year, I‘m having so much fun,” Poole recently said with a big smile. “We‘ve exceeded all the goals, all the expectations.”

It‘s been nearly a decade since Poole began his two-and-a-half year stint with Chip Ganassi Racing, then one of the powerhouses in the Xfinity Series. He never won in 83 attempts, but he also lacked experience as he was plucked from the ARCA Menards Series, having run a total of 35 prior races, mostly with Venturini Motorsports.

Nearly five years passed before Poole got another chance in Xfinity. He spent parts of five seasons in the Craftsman Truck Series, finishing runner-up to Kyle Busch at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2019 with On Point Motorsports. He also ran a full Cup slate in 2020 with Rick Ware Racing, finishing 32nd in the championship standings. He followed that up by running a single race across the top three national series in 2021.

Mike Harmon called Poole ahead of the 2022 season to see if he would attempt races for the underfunded team. Poole didn‘t hesitate, believing his talent would catch the eyes of team owners in the garage. And despite failing to qualify more times than not, it did just that, as he returned to the seat full time in 2023 for JD Motorsports, which signed him at the end of 2022.

Poole picked up JDM‘s first top-five finish in nearly four years at Talladega Superspeedway. He finished the season with eight top-20 finishes.

“We had some spectacular runs and did some special things together for our budget, the cars and engines that we had,” Poole said of his 2023 season. “We weren‘t working with much and trying to stay in the top 30 in points, get the bonus money. But we had a lot of weekends where we had good finishes inside the top 20. I think those things led to maybe there being a little more attention around me.”

With the season winding down, Poole approached Tommy Joe Martins, co-owner of Alpha Prime Racing, about joining the team full time for the 2024 season. Martins, who fully welcomes veterans to his race team, felt it was a no-brainer to hire Poole. Before the end of 2023, Poole signed with Alpha Prime.

“The first time I got to talk to Brennan about it, he said, ‘I feel like I‘m the thing that your team needs right now. I feel like I can help stabilize things for you guys.‘ I totally agreed,” Martins recalled. “I think it was really important with our series this year, to have someone you can depend on. The competition level is incredibly tough. His experience going to all these tracks as a veteran was a big priority for us.”

Originally, Poole thought the transition to Alpha Prime was a lateral move. He quickly realized that the No. 44 team had potential, kicking the season off with five consecutive top-20 finishes. That streak ended at Richmond Raceway, but a different pit strategy led him to finish second in the opening stage.

“When I get into one of these racecars, I drive it as hard as I can the whole time and try to maximize the result every week,” Poole added.

Poole put added emphasis on not making mistakes and being solid on restarts and on pit road. The team has executed through the first three months of the season and sits 16th in the championship standings, just 49 points below the elimination line.

The highlight of Poole‘s 2024 season thus far was having the lead off Turn 4 at Talladega Superspeedway. Anthony Alfredo, a playoff bubble driver, elected to not push the No. 44 car to the win and Poole dropped to fifth. It tied the best finish in Alpha Prime history.

“I think it‘s funny that we‘re the place where people are going to rebuild their careers,” Martins said. “In a lot of ways, that‘s what it was for me too. We‘ve become this spot in the middle of the field where [drivers] feel like they can get in a car and show what they can do.

“Brennan has been the same guy the whole time. He‘s been a competitive driver everywhere he‘s been. You can only do what the car can do. Brennan has always been an overachiever, so bringing him into our organization, I had no doubt that was what it would be.”

Much of the early season success goes to longtime crew chief Frank Kerr, Poole believes. He thinks their two personalities are like-minded and it allows for them to conquer a common goal.

“I know a lot of people probably look at me and don‘t think I‘m a real racer,” Poole said, “ but I‘m a racer and I love this. Frank is that way, too. He is in the sprint car Hall of Fame, he‘s very knowledgeable and just a real racer.

“We want to keep working and fight to make it into the playoffs.”

Through the first third of the 2024 schedule, the No. 44 team ranks 18th in the owner standings, ahead of a good chunk larger teams. It ranks ahead of both Jordan Anderson Racing cars, the Toyota-backed Sam Hunt Racing entry and the No. 11 team for Kaulig Racing.

“We‘re trying to keep it in perspective,” Poole stated. “We want to run top 20 every week and that will put the pressure on the guys in the top 12.”

With two-thirds of the season remaining, Poole already has more top-20 finishes than all of the 2023 season.

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