Chase Briscoe Notes of Interest
• It’s NASCAR Throwback Weekend at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, and Chase Briscoe together with sponsor HighPoint.com are doing their part to ensure this year’s theme – NASCAR’s Champions… Past, Present and Future – is well represented. The No. 98 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang has eschewed its traditional blue-and-white livery for one made famous by NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart during his epic run to the 2011 NASCAR Cup Series championship. In Saturday’s Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200, the HighPoint.com Ford Mustang will be predominantly black and white, with bold red accents that emulate the Mobil 1 design Stewart piloted to an amazing five-win playoff campaign in 2011. In fact, HighPoint, a leading customer service and technology solutions company, has even incorporated the red “o” in Mobil 1’s logo into its own identification, with the “o” in HighPoint an equally bright red. It is the first time in the company’s 24-year-history that it has temporarily altered its logo.
• Briscoe was 16 years old when a 40-year-old Stewart tore through the NASCAR Playoffs, winning the first two races of the 10-race playoffs and then three of the last four, including the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway where Stewart led four times for 65 laps and passed an incredible 118 cars to seal the title in a tiebreaker over Carl Edwards.
• The new paint job is more than skin deep. While 24 years apart, Briscoe and Stewart grew up similarly. Both came from humble, middle-class families in southern Indiana and each began their racing careers in go-karts before making a name for themselves in the rough-and-tumble world of sprint car racing. Briscoe’s hometown of Mitchell is 90 minutes southwest of Stewart’s hometown of Columbus. And after each started their respective racing careers in open-wheel machines, they gravitated to NASCAR, where Stewart became a three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion with 69 victories across NASCAR’s top-three touring series – Cup, Xfinity and Truck.
• Briscoe returns to Darlington as the Xfinity Series’ most recent winner at the venerable track. He won on May 21 at the 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval in the Xfinity Series’ return to racing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Briscoe started 11th for the 200-lap race and ran consistently among the top-10 through the race’s first 90 laps. A quick pit stop on lap 91 for four tires and field allowed Briscoe to restart in second place on lap 96. Briscoe promptly took the lead, pacing the field for the next 34 laps. A caution on lap 133 allowed the No. 98 HighPoint.com team to pit one final time for fresh tires and fuel, and another lightning-fast stop put Briscoe in the lead for the lap-138 restart. This set up a battle between Briscoe and Kyle Busch, the winningest driver in Xfinity Series history with 96 career victories. But Briscoe would not be denied, crossing the finish line first in a fender-scraping, tire-rubbing duel where the margin of victory was just .086 of a second.
• The victory came in Briscoe’s second career start at Darlington, as his lone start prior to that was last August when Briscoe started fifth and finished sixth in the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200. The win put him on equal footing with Stewart, at least in terms of Xfinity Series wins at Darlington. Stewart scored his only win of any kind at Darlington when he won the 2008 Diamond Hill Plywood 200 by .814 of a second over Clint Bowyer. It was Stewart’s last Xfinity Series start at Darlington.
• Briscoe comes into Darlington with a series-best six wins. The 25-year-old racer is second in the regular-season championship standings, 58 points behind series leader Austin Cindric. However, Briscoe is already well positioned for the Xfinity Series Playoffs, which starts Sept. 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. With four races still remaining in the regular season, Briscoe leads in two important categories – wins (next best have five victories) and playoff points (next best has 34). This season will mark Briscoe’s second season of playoff eligibility. He finished fifth in the title race last year, narrowly missing out on advancing to the Championship 4 and competing for the series championship. Nonetheless, the performance earned Briscoe the 2019 rookie-of-the-year title.
CHASE BRISCOE, Driver of the No. 98 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang:
For the first time this season, you’re returning to a track where you’ve already won. Does that increase your confidence?
“Anytime you can go back to a racetrack where you’ve won before, you’re going to have added confidence – especially if you get to go back to that same track in the same year. It’s going to be little different this time. Everyone is on top of their game and ready to run at Darlington, where earlier in the year not everyone was prepared to run that track at that time. I expect it’ll be hotter and slicker with the race being earlier in the day and later in the summer, but I feel like we have a pretty good base setup. We’ve been working on making adjustments in the simulator to account for what we think the track will do, so if we hit that right then our HighPoint.com Ford Mustang should be good.”
How special is it to run a Stewart-inspired throwback paint scheme this weekend at Darlington?
“It means a lot for me to be able to run Tony’s 2011 championship paint scheme. I was a fan of that car growing up. I remember watching that run and I’ve always felt like it was one of the most historic championship runs in the sport. So for HighPoint to give me the opportunity to run that paint scheme, with the history behind it, means so much. The cool thing for me is how similar Tony and I are in upbringing and our background. Growing up an hour or so away from each other and both racing sprint cars – he knew my dad from racing against him. Now for me to be driving for him and to be able to race one of his paint schemes with his name over the window is pretty cool. I’d definitely like to get this one to victory lane. That would be pretty special. It’s been a great season so far, and there are so many moments that have just been so awesome, like winning at Indy and winning with Zippy (Greg Zipadelli, vice president of competition for Stewart-Haas Racing, who was Stewart’s crew chief for two of his three NASCAR Cup Series championships). It would kind of be the icing on the cake to win in this paint scheme.”
Before the season began, you had a helmet designed as a tribute to Stewart, and you plan to give him that helmet at the end of the year. Will you be wearing that helmet this weekend?
“Yeah, but I think it might be bad luck for us. I’ve only worn it twice and I don’t think the guys on the team ever want me to wear it again. But I feel like I have to wear it for this one. We ran it at Atlanta when I sped on pit road while leading, and the first Homestead race when we went seven laps down. The helmet’s got some good speed, we just haven’t been able to close the deal, so hopefully at Darlington we’ll be able to do that.”