It's been nearly three years since former Penn State football running back Journey Brown had to retire from football due to a heart condition.
Brown burst onto the scene for the Nittany Lions toward the middle the 2019 season, as he earned the starting role after separating himself from a group of three other running backs. On just 129 carries that season, Brown rushed for 890 yards and 12 touchdowns and won Offensive MVP of the 2019 Cotton Bowl.
Heading into the 2020 season, Brown was being hyped up as the next great Penn State running back after his two predecessors, Saquon Barkley and Miles Sanders. Unfortunately, just days before the COVID-19-abbreviated 2020 Big Ten college football season was set to begin, Brown announced he had to retire due to a medical condition involving his heart.
Brown stuck around the Penn State team as a student-coach until his graduation. But the man who once ran for 722 yards and 10 touchdowns in a high school game still had the itch to compete.
His new calling would be a rather unexpected one, though.
NBC Sports highlighted Brown on Sunday during its NASCAR coverage after a recent featured story on Brown from Dustin Long of NBC Sports.
Journey Brown was a @PennStateFball star before being sidelined.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) September 3, 2023
In 2022, the Trackhouse Racing team reached out to Brown about trying to be a tire changer on a pit crew. After trying it out, Brown "fell in love with it," according to NBC Sports.
After spending a year practicing his craft with the help of the Trackhouse and Kaulig racing teams, Brown was finally able to make his NASCAR debut two weeks ago at Daytona. The Kaulig racing team added a third car — driven by Chandler Smith — to the race, meaning an additional pit crew was also needed. Brown was a tire changer on that crew, according to Long.
Speed and strength are two necessary traits of a NASCAR pit crew member, and those are the two elements that made Brown such a special running back at Penn State. It may not be the NFL, but Brown still found a way to put his special skills to use.
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