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Is rising star Chase Briscoe ready for Prime Time?

Chase Briscoe

Just 25-years old, Chase Briscoe is making a case for a job in NASCAR’s Premier Series next year and beyond

A year ago, Chase Briscoe put together one of the most excellent seasons in Xfinity Series history. With only one win, he racked up 13 top-five, and a fantastic 26 top-ten finishes in 33 starts. Throw in a couple of poles, and you have something to highlight on your resume. That was then, and this is now.

A native of Mitchell, Indiana, population 4,263 in 2018, Briscoe is living the dream in NASCAR’s second-tier division. Driving the No. 98 Ford full time for Stewart-Haas Racing. He’s on the verge of obliterating his numbers from last year, having already found the winner’s circle three times in ten outings. His latest came at the just-completed Contender Boats 250 at Homestead-Miami-Speedway on Sunday.

At any level of stock car racing, Briscoe has performed. Here’s a sampling:

ARCA Menards: 22 starts, six wins, 15 top-fives, 20 top-tens, and two poles.
All six victories came in the same season at the age of 21.
Gander Trucks: 25 starts, two wins, 11 top-fives, 16 top-tens, and five poles.
Average start, 6.3. Average finish, 8.1.
Xfinity: 60 starts, five wins, 19 top-fives, 38 top-tens, and two poles.
Average start, 10.5 (8.0 in 2020), 10.9 (7.1 in 2020).

Briscoe is the series leader in wins, is second in points, and fourth in laps led with 206, behind veteran Justin Allgaier (306), points leader Noah Gragson (317), and Austin Cindric (230).

‘DEGA ON HIS MIND

As he heads to the largest track on the NASCAR circuit, Talladega Superspeedway, Briscoe will have Greg Zipadelli on the box as he crew chief for the second week in a row. His regular crew chief, Richard Boswell, is serving a four-race suspension because a ballast fell off the No. 98 on a pace lap last Saturday. The change didn’t stop him from a two-overtime victory.

“Zippy is doing it this week,” said Briscoe. “We don’t know about the next two races just because he’s got so much on his plate over on the Cup side it makes it hard for him to do both, so, right now, the plan is to have him do it at Talladega. I think that’s kind of all of our goal is to have Zippy do it for the following two races, but it’s just depending on what he’s got going on on the Cup side.”

With a dirt background, taking on a beast like Talladega is a monumental task. But Briscoe isn’t a rookie at the fastest track in NASCAR. It will be his third trip around the 2.66-mile speedway scoring a 16th two years ago and a fourth in 2019 in the Xfinity Series.

“Growing up dirt racing is the complete opposite of anything superspeedway racing,” he said. “I don’t think anything really relates to that other than if you went go-kart racing on a big track or something, so it was definitely a challenge at first and still it. It’s a place anytime I go to Daytona or Talladega I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t nervous just because of what can happen. You know there are gonna be big wrecks, and you just hope and pray that you’re not in one of them, but I used to despise even going there. I went there with the mentality I was just gonna ride around, and hopefully, the wreck would happen, and I wouldn’t be in it and maybe run top 10.”

CHASE BRISCOE TALKS WITH JUNIOR

Briscoe said he talked with Dale Earnhardt Jr. last year, and after 45-minutes on the phone, it changed his outlook at tracks like ‘Dega. ‘It’s like night and day.”

That is a scary thought because there are a lot of big, fast tracks left on the Xfinity calendar. But Talladega is up next, and there will not be any practice, just like every Xfinity event since racing resumed.

“I think as a driver, it’s probably the easiest place to go and not have practice as far as just turning laps, but I think it is nice to have some practice, especially there just to know what your car can and can’t do. It seems every time you go superspeedway racing, your car always has strengths and things it doesn’t like to do, so just having that practice allows you to kind of get a feel for what your car’s strengths are and where you can use those in the race. So not having practice will make that a little bit more difficult, just not knowing at the start of the race, but this makes that beginning of the race more critical.”

THE BRICKYARD AWAITS

Briscoe is also looking forward to July 4 when he will visit Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He finished eighth last year, but that was on the main track. This trip it will be on the Indy road course as part of an IndyCar, Xfinity Series crossover event.

“To win at the Brickyard would mean everything to me,” he said. “We’ve been practicing on the sim at the Brickyard since February. We’ve been trying to prepare for that race just because of how much it means to me personally, and it’s a new race for everybody, so we’re trying to get as many notes as we can. To win at the Brickyard would mean the world to me. I wish there were obviously fans there. It would make it that much sweeter if we were able to win in front of the hometown crowd, but whether it’s on the road course or the oval or the dirt track, whatever, if you win at Indy, that’s the pinnacle of racing.”

The way things are going in his career, don’t be surprised if you see him in a Cup car in 2021 racing in the prestigious Brickyard 400, known in 2020 as the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 Powered by Big Machine Records. Briscoe has his foot firmly planted on the accelerator to bigger and better things.

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