Patrick Bruns Fights through Ups and Downs in 2017
By Jessica Jenkins
Coming on the heels of five straight D2 midget championships, 2017 went in an entirely different direction as Patrick Bruns returned to USAC's Silver Crown division. Taking part in the entire dirt track portion of the Silver Crown schedule set up a far lower race count than the veteran driver was accustomed to. Running just eight total weekends between three series also meant he wouldn't be racing for the championships he was so familiar with winning.
2017 started off in February with Bruns celebrating the 2016 POWRi/ILLINI D2 midget championship in St. Louis. A short time later Full Throttle Racing announced they were forming the #95 Silver Crown team and reached Terre Haute in early April with the same hard work and determination they are known for. A 13th place finish at the end of 100 laps left the whole team with the knowledge they had started well and had something good to build on going into the rest of the season. The first weekend in June sent the Champaign, IL racer back to the location of his recent success with POWRi D2 midgets. During Illinois Midget Week at Lincoln Speedway, the established racer took the wheel of fellow driver Justin Behrens' #17 and picked up a seventh place result. A couple weeks later Full Throttle Racing and their Lightning McQueen-inspired paint scheme (that was designed by Bruns' young son) took the long trip out to Pennsylvania. They picked up their best Silver Crown weekend of 2017 at the historic Williams Grove Speedway by qualifying fourteenth and finishing seventh against a stout field of cars.
During the break between Silver Crown starts at Williams Grove and August's Springfield State Fairgrounds, Bruns went back to his playground. Wheeling a D2 midget owned by Craig and Tia Dori at his hometown race, the father of three took the #38 to a fourth place finish. Three weekends later he went even farther back to his roots of racing sprint cars with his brothers at their home track. Using Lincoln Speedway to become re-accustomed to the 410 non-wing sprint, Bruns respectably finished third in his heat and ultimately took home a ninth place finish in the Feature.
From that point on Bruns was fully focused on the final three events of the Silver Crown Series. But the momentum they built through the first two races began to seep out as a cracked oil pump and oil line leak left them without the finishes they desired in Springfield and DuQuoin, despite laying down the 19th fastest qualifying time at both Illinois Fairground races. Taking the trip over to Western Ohio for the Silver Crown finale, they were prepared to cap off the year on a good note. But it wasn't to be for this season because when Bruns got on track for qualifying, a broken u-joint sent him flipping down the racetrack before they could really even get the night started. Repairs to the car would have been enough to keep them from returning to the track, but it was needed repairs to the driver that sealed the deal.
Bruns has spent the remainder of 2017 recovering from his foot injury and made a lot of progress, but still has a ways to go. He plans to return behind the wheel during the Summer of 2018 with the same determination to succeed that characterizes each of his races. Even with the late season struggles, an average Silver Crown finish of 19.3 followed his 16.8 starting average. Combining his 4 USAC starts with the two D2 features and one sprint car appearance bring Bruns' total average season finish to 13.9, just a tick below the 12.4 starting positions. Though he didn't run his customary schedule that includes upwards of 40+ races, Bruns persevered through every hill and valley, making new friends along the way and showcasing why he has multiple championships.
This season would not have been possible for Bruns without the support of Triple T Car Wash, Mobil 1, Cain's Marine Welding, Harold Colbert Plumbing and Heating, Advanced Financial Inc and Bell Helmets along with each of his dedicated crew guys. Stay tuned to his Facebook page @FullThrottleRacing95 for updates on this personable driver as he recovers and returns to the track.