WHEATLAND, Mo. – Because Tyler Brown failed to win a feature this year in the Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mod division at Lucas Oil Speedway, he knows a lot of fans might consider his season a disappointment.
But the Richland, Mo., driver, mindful of how ultra competitive the speedway’s largest classification is each week, figures that finishing second in points to J.C. Morton looks pretty good on a resume.
“The points show that we did better than people thought,” Brown said in reviewing his season. “I don’t see being second to JC as bad at all. JC ran off from the rest of us. He’s the man.”
Brown’s runner-up finish at Lucas Oil Speedway showed continued progress for the 31-year-old, who climbed from fourth in the B-Mod points a year earlier. He also wound up third in the points chase at Lebanon Midway Speedway, despite running only a partial schedule there.
It took a while for Brown to hit his stride after returning to a GRT chassis.
“We had to adjust back to the GRT,” he said. “It’s what we had raced before but this, while it wasn’t a new car per se, it was new to us. We struggled with it a little bit and finally got a balance on it. But for a while, we struggled and didn’t know what to do.”
That’s when an old pro’s advice really helped. Brown dad, Ricky Brown, used to race at Lebanon I-44 Speedway when it was dirt in the 1980s. One of the guys he raced against, and became friends with, was dirt-track legend and Ava native Bill Frye.
So about halfway through the 2016 season, the Browns hauled the car to Frye’s shop in Greenbrier, Arkansas and asked for advice.
“I’d like to know what that guy’s forgotten about cars,” Tyler Brown said of Frye. “He’s very good with them and knows how to balance them out. You tell him your driving style and he knows what to do from there.
“Basically he looked the car over and said was were in a pretty good spot, that we just needed to tweak it in some different areas and run some different shocks.”
The first race after Frye’s intervention saw a season-best third-place feature finish at Lucas, behind Morton and Gene Sisco.
“At Lucas, a top-five is something you don’t thumb your nose at,” Brown said. “We went around Andy Bryant and I think that’s the first time I ever passed him.”
Brown looks to 2017 with plans to run the same car and motor. He does most all of the crew work himself, including building the engine that proved dependable.
“We had a pretty mean motor and it’s still together,” he said. “We’re gonna tune it a little better and see if we can get it a little faster.”
But Brown isn’t sure he will be able to points race again. Without significant sponsor help, he’s eyeing only a partial schedule next season in a car owned by uncles Johnny and Bruce McDaniel.
“After we spent a wad of money, we might have to take an easy season and not spend quite as much,” he said. “Our big sponsor dropped out on us. We’ll run here and there, wherever we can afford.
“I’m like to see some special shows (for B-Mods) at Lucas. It’s the biggest class and brings the most cars.”
He does get some sponsor help from Shelter Insurance and Burger Stand of Richland.
“Uncle Johnny and uncle Bruce are the car owners; they put the money into the car,” Brown said. “I’d like to thank them and thank Bill Frye for all he did for us this year.”