Chase Briscoe did what he had to do to survive last Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The 2nd year driver narrowly advanced past the Round of 12 and gave Stewart-Haas Racing their 13th Round of 8 appearance. Now, Briscoe is hoping to give him a 6th Championship 4 appearance over the next 3 weeks.
He knows no one expected him to be here. For a driver with 1 top 10 finish over the final 18 races of the regular season, with his last top 10 coming at Charlotte on May 29, he narrowly escaped the opening round.
While he didn’t have a top 10 finish in any of the first round races either, they weren’t beating themselves and capitalizing on others’ misfortunes.
Kyle Busch blew 2 engines in 3 opening round playoff races. Kevin Harvick had a fire in Darlington, a tire blow and crash in Kansas and a bad pit stop in Bristol. Austin Dillon was 17th and 14th in the first two races then caught up in a crash at Bristol. Tyler Reddick cut a tire and crashed also in Kansas and was collected in a crash at Bristol as well.
Briscoe was 27th in Darlington, 13th in Kansas and 14th in Bristol. It was enough.
This past round, he started outside the top 30 in Texas but with so many cutting tires and having problems, Briscoe wound up 5th on a day he had a car capable of 20th or worse. In Talladega, he snuck by 10th.
That had him -12 entering last Sunday’s race.
Briscoe scored 7 stage points and benefitted from Daniel Suarez’ power steering failing and Ross Chastain as well as Kyle Larson each getting into the infield wall and having to pit for repairs falling multiple laps down. It also didn’t hurt that a few laps after Erik Jones spun him in the bus stop, he spun Austin Cindric who was -1 to Larson at the time.
It brought out a caution. Briscoe was 5th when he was spun and now 25th after. Then the caution came out and he took new tires. So did a few others. His pit crew got him out in 21st.
He went from 21st to 12th to 9th while Larson was stuck 5 laps down without any positions to gain.
That pushed Briscoe in and Larson out.
“It took every bit of it there at the end,” he said. “To be easily in, then that debris caution comes out. Still, I thought we had a really good shot of making it in. Get wrecked on the backstretch. Crazy at the end of these races, especially the road course race, how much can change so quickly.
“I had no idea we were even going to have a shot. Truthfully I knew we were probably out. I saw the 2 wreck, I thought maybe there’s still a chance. We had so much fresher tires than anybody. Johnny pumped them way up to qualifying pressures, let me go attack, have the ball in my hands.”
He capitalized with the ball in his hands in a big moment. Now, the underdog that no one predicted would still be here is trying to maximize what’s ahead.
“Super proud of this race team. Looking forward to the Round of 8. A lot of really, really good racetracks for me,” Briscoe said. “If we can get to Phoenix, we know we got a good car there, too. … Nobody believed we were gonna get past the Round of 16 and here we are in the Round of 8 and three really, really good racetracks for me coming up, so I’m looking forward to them.”
It’s not going to be easy but Briscoe has done a great job of getting through so far, why not 1 more round? Then if he’s still in it at Phoenix, he’s got to shoot up there among the favorites, right?
The only winner with this Next Gen car at the 1-mile Arizona oval?