Grain Valley resident Brian Brown is off to a strong start for the 2018 sprint car dirt track circuit, and now he’s preparing for the sport’s biggest event.

Today, Brown will compete in the 58th annual 5-Hour Energy Knoxville Nationals, which goes through Saturday in Knoxville, Iowa. The race is considered the Super Bowl of sprint car racing, he said. In his lengthy racing career, Brown has three runner-up finishes in the event and has earned a spot in the event eight of the last nine years.

“We feel like we have a good team that can compete this week,” Brown said. “It’s process and we have to get through our qualifying night on Thursday. You just have to keep yourself in a good position for these big events and hopefully we do that, so we’ll be in contention on Saturday.

“We are about halfway through the year, so we’re on a good pace,” he added. “We’re off the good start. We’re looking forward to having a good run (at the Knoxville Nationals).”

It helps that Brown has a good feel for the Knoxville track. This year, he’s set a personal record for single-season victories there with seven.

“I’ve been coming there for a while, and we’ve had some success,” he said. “I think we’re sixth overall in career wins there with 44. We have a good notebook of conditions that the track gives you.”

Brown has earned eight feature victories this season, including seven in the 410ci winged sprint car division. In 44 races, Brown had 22 top-five finishes and 24 in the top 10.

Last Saturday, he finished third in the 360 Knoxville Nationals and third in the Capitani Classic last Sunday.

“It was a good race,” Brown said of the 360 Nationals. “There were about 100 competitors there and we took third. We obviously wanted to win it, but to still have that good of a result is pretty awesome.”

And finishing in the top three in two of the biggest events in the sport has given the veteran racer a positive outlook for this weekend’s Knoxville Nationals.

“The next 10 days up here (Knoxville Raceway) is about building confidence and having good runs,” Brown said. “We’ve had some good runs the last five days. We should be in contention for the weekend.”