Event: Draft Top 250 (Round 32 of 33)
Date: Oct. 31, 2020
Location: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway
Layout: .526-mile oval
Chase Briscoe Notes of Interest
• Who is the most relaxed driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series heading into the penultimate race of season? It’s Chase Briscoe, of course. The driver of the No. 98 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing has won a series-best nine races in 2020, a tally that includes wins in the opening race in each round of the playoffs, ensuring his advancement into the next round. Briscoe’s win Sept. 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway punched his ticket to the Round of 8, and his victory Oct. 17 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City cemented his place in the Championship 4 Nov. 7 at Phoenix Raceway. The playoffs began with 12 drivers, with each round jettisoning the four drivers lowest in points. The caveat, however, is win and you’re in. As the series enters the final race in the Round of 8 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Briscoe has no worries as the only driver to have secured a spot in the Championship 4.
• Martinsville is a tight and flat .526-mile oval, and when filled with nearly 40 racecars wheeled by drivers eyeing the same piece of real estate, it can be a scary place. It’s appropriate that Saturday’s Draft Top 250 is on Halloween, as Martinsville is known for delivering plenty of tricks, often by drivers treating their counterparts to a shove from their bumper. Briscoe has proven that he can handle himself on short tracks like Martinsville. The 25-year-old racer from Mitchell, Indiana, has made 14 short-track starts in the Xfinity Series, scoring two wins – Sept. 18 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and last July at Iowa Speedway in Newton – and earning nine top-10 finishes.
• The Draft Top 250 marks the Xfinity Series’ return to Martinsville after a 13-year hiatus. The last Xfinity Series race at Martinsville took place on July 22, 2006. Kevin Harvick defeated Clint Bowyer by .271 seconds. Briscoe was 12 years old. Today, Briscoe races for the same team as Harvick and Bowyer. In 2021, Briscoe will replace Bowyer in the team’s No. 14 Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Cup Series as Bowyer transitions to his new television role with FOX Sports broadcasting NASCAR races.
• Even though the Xfinity Series hasn’t raced at Martinsville in 13 years, Briscoe has competed at the Virginia short track. Briscoe has made two NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series starts at Martinsville. His best finish came April 2017 when he started eighth and finished 11th. He returned in October to start on the pole and lead the first 39 laps of the race before a late-race accident resulted in a 19th-place finish.
• In the Xfinity Series’ most recent race last Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Briscoe started from the pole and led the first 34 laps but finished an uncharacteristic 24th due to a broken shock mount on his No. 98 Ford Mustang. His 24th-place finish was only the second time this season that Briscoe has finished outside the top-20.
• Despite the tough day at Texas, Briscoe still leads the championship standings by 30 points over second-place Austin Cindric, though Briscoe already secured his position in the Championship 4 by virtue of his win at Kansas. This is Briscoe’s second straight playoff appearance, but his first time advancing to the final round and competing for the series title.
• Beyond being the first driver to claim his a shot at the title and having a series-best nine wins, there are other numbers that bolster Briscoe’s championship aspirations:
• Briscoe has already led 991 laps this season, the most of any Xfinity Series driver and 794 more laps than he led all last season.
• Briscoe has already scored 16 top-fives, three more than he earned last year.
• Briscoe’s average starting position this season is 6.5, an improvement over his 8.8 average starting position last year.
CHASE BRISCOE, Driver of the No. 98 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang:
Martinsville is usually a pretty chaotic race, but will it be even more chaotic considering it’s now the cutoff race to determine the Championship 4 field next week at Phoenix?
“I think we’re going to see the craziest race of the year. There is going to be a lot of desperation throughout the field and some tempers are going to show. There’s no telling what’s going to happen. I’m so glad we’re locked in to Phoenix with our HighPoint.com Ford Mustang and don’t have to stress over getting a win or having a good points day.”
What is the toughest part of racing at Martinsville?
“Martinsville is a tough track to find success because there’s just a lot out of your control. We’re racing on a narrow short track with tight corners where you have nowhere to go to avoid a bad situation. It’s so easy to get caught up in someone else’s mess or make someone mad to the point where they retaliate and then your day is ruined.”
It has been a few years since you raced at Martinsville in the Truck Series. Are you happy to see it back on the schedule?
“I can’t wait to get there. It’s always a fun place to go to because you’re up on the wheel so much and always in traffic. You have to have a lot of patience and focus. I’ve had this race circled for a long time and I would love to get our HighPoint.com Ford Mustang out front and pick up another win.”
Martinsville is the only track that has been on the NASCAR schedule since the sport’s inception. What would it mean to add a grandfather clock to your trophy collection?
“It would mean a lot. Martinsville is one of those places where a win holds so much meaning because of its history but also because it’s considered a driver’s track. Not to mention, the grandfather clock is probably one of the coolest and most iconic trophies in the sport.”