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Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Brian Scott has shown he belongs

By Brant James
ESPN.com

Auto racing consumes money ravenously. Families leverage businesses, savings accounts and mortgages attempting to buy enough time until their children realize the mythical big win or big break to launch them into professional careers or until those children realize their aspirations have overdrawn the account.

Brian Scott has aspirations. His family has the money to fund them and the patience to give them some time. That relieves pressure, he said, but also produces it. Either way, his means have been wielded against him as he progressed from dirt racer to jobs at several high-profile teams to third place in points in the Nationwide Series.

Brian Scott
Brian Scott is working on a streak of seven consecutive top-10 finishes dating to November at Phoenix.

"It's a little bit of a catch-22," Scott said of whether his background has reduced or increased pressure to perform. "I think I could build a case for both. Certain times, I feel like pressure is added. And sometimes there is a little bit of a peace of mind knowing that it's more difficult to just get fired and lose your job on a bad weekend."

Scott, 25, is certainly not the first driver who benefited from a wealthy family to further his racing ambitions. Kids wrenching on cars in backyard garages, winning with them at local short tracks and earning jobs with huge race teams has become increasingly more of a romantic ideal than a pathway to the big leagues.

Scott's father, Joe, is heir to the Albertsons empire and owns various other ventures that have served as his sponsor at numerous times throughout his career in the NASCAR Truck and Nationwide series. That his attempt at a NASCAR career has coincided with the widely derided bid of John Wes Townley -- son of the Zaxby's chicken franchise co-founder -- likely has not helped his perception problem.

After Scott and Aric Almirola were involved in an on-track incident at Kansas Speedway in October 2011, Almirola said in a television interview that "He's very fortunate his dad has a lot of money and spends a lot of money on his racing. That's a big factor in what he's got going on."

Scott defended himself on Twitter, noting that Almirola's first break came in the Joe Gibbs Racing diversity program and that he didn't care how his break came. Scott continues to deal with perceptions regarding how his career and what pays for it, he said.

"I've said I'm very fortunate, and I don't try to hide it or take it for granted," he said. "For me, I carry the opportunity that I've had on my shoulders, and I have more to prove than anybody else and not like I feel I was better than anybody or that this doesn't mean that much to me because I haven't had as many heartbreaks as a lot of the really talented drivers out there have.

"But I carry it. I try to use it as a positive. It really motivates me. I feel like I have more to prove than anybody else out there."

Scott has proved himself this year, standing third in Nationwide points after five races. His streak of seven consecutive top-10 finishes, dating to November at Phoenix, is the current longest of a NASCAR national series driver.

It can be argued that certain sons of former Sprint Cup drivers, Dale Earnhardt Jr. included, benefited from their families' financial wherewithal, exposure to the sport and connections in becoming professionals. The late Dale Earnhardt founded Dale Earnhardt Inc. so his son and namesake and daughter, Kelley, could have a place to learn the motorsports business and continue the family name in NASCAR.

The deal that I made with myself and my family is that I was pursuing racing to try and be the best, to be the best on a weekly basis, and to me that means Sundays.

-- Brian Scott

Scott's father buying Xpress Motorsports and turning it into a family Truck series team in 2008 didn't ring nearly so romantic, and Scott has been pilloried for his advantages ever since, even as he has won in the Truck series in 2009 and 2012 and finished seventh in points in 2009. Scott finished eighth and ninth in Nationwide points for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Once it became clear he wouldn't return to Joe Gibbs Racing last year, Scott was able to secure a ride at Richard Childress Racing because he was bringing sponsorship money from one of his family's businesses.

"Elliott [Sadler] kind of figured he wasn't going to be back at RCR, and then I figured out I wasn't going to be at Gibbs," Scott said. "And then I guess it was just some musical chairs started happening. They didn't have sponsorship tied with him, I had some sponsorship tied with me, and they had an availability, and it all just kind of flip-flopped and worked."

Scott insists that his NASCAR career is no sportsman's dalliance. And family funding, he said, is finite.

"The deal that I made with myself and my family is that I was pursuing racing to try and be the best, to be the best on a weekly basis, and to me that means Sundays," he said. "I think my whole family believes that means Sundays. So if I can't make it to Sundays or can't get there, I'm not going to be content to just continue to make a living and race in the Nationwide Series even though it's supercompetitive and it's all these Cup guys. The whole point was to try to make it to Sundays, and that's what we're trying to achieve."

Scott incorrectly assumed that the transition from dirt to asphalt racing "would be easy" and that he would be able to reach the Sprint Cup Series in two years, he said.

"I figured out that was wrong real fast," he said. "Of course, it's been almost seven years. We've adjusted along the way, and I think that we have a lot more knowledge of the sport and a clearer understanding of what it takes. And the results have been not been what we wanted, but we're kind of continuing to move along. Hopefully, the goal is in two years to be in Cup, and if not, we really have to sit and re-evaluate."