Event: Indianapolis 150 at the Brickyard (Round 13 of 33)
Date: July 4, 2020
Location: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Layout: 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course
Chase Briscoe Notes of Interest
• Briscoe is an Indiana native, and the Hoosier returns to his home state fresh off a victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ last race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. The 25-year-old racer from Mitchell, Indiana, scored his series-leading fourth win of the season last Sunday at Pocono, but it was far from easy. Briscoe incurred a pit-road speeding penalty on lap 37, squeezed through a multicar accident on lap 54, and suffered late-race spin from the lead on lap 70 after cutting a left-rear tire. The driver of the No. 98 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang overcame all of that to lead twice for 24 laps around the 2.5-mile triangle, including the final nine laps, the last two of which came in a green-white-checkered overtime finish. It was Briscoe’s sixth career Xfinity Series victory, and he crossed the stripe with a 1.015-second advantage over runner-up Ross Chastain to retake the championship point lead.
• Briscoe now leads the championship standings by three points over second-place Noah Gragson. In 12 starts this year, Briscoe has four wins, six top-fives and nine top-10s.
• The Indianapolis 150 at the Brickyard marks the first time the Xfinity Series will run the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The road course at Indianapolis has hosted INDYCAR, Formula One, sports cars and even MotoGP, but never NASCAR.
• As such, everyone will be making their first career start on the Indianapolis road course. Many, however, have turned laps on the track’s 2.5-mile oval. Briscoe has two top-10 Xfinity Series finishes on Indy’s oval, with a best result of eighth last year.
• Road courses hold special appeal for Briscoe, as it’s where he scored his first career Xfinity Series victory. It was Sept. 29, 2018 when in just his 14th career Xfinity Series start, Briscoe won the inaugural race at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval. Briscoe tapped into his dirt-track experience to wheel the No. 98 Ford Mustang to a strong 1.478-second margin of victory. “It drove like a dirt track instead of a road course, and it felt like I was in a sprint car,” said Briscoe after the race. “I just tried to make sure the rear tires never spun. I had to give up a little time coming off the corner, but I’d make it back up down the straightaway, and that’s why I was always better at the end of the run.”
• In six career road-course starts in the Xfinity Series, Briscoe has finished in the top-10 all but once. And in his lone NASCAR Gander Outdoors & RV Truck Series start on a road course – 2017 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park – Briscoe finished seventh in a Ford F-150.
• Greg Zipadelli returns for his fourth race as the interim crew chief for Briscoe and the No. 98 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang. Subbing for regular crew chief Richard Boswell three races ago at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Zipadelli earned his first Xfinity Series victory when Briscoe crossed the stripe .072 of a second ahead of runner-up Brandon Jones. Zipadelli earned his second Xfinity Series win last Sunday with Briscoe at Pocono. Zipadelli won two NASCAR Cup Series championships with driver Tony Stewart and a total of 34 races, including two Brickyard 400s (2005 and 2007).
• Briscoe grew up idolizing Stewart and Zipadelli and, now at the age of 25, he drives for Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) with Zipadelli as his crew chief. Briscoe is a third-generation racer, and his path to NASCAR began on the dirt tracks of Indiana in 2001 when he sat behind the wheel of a quarter midget for the first time. He won his first heat race and later that evening earned his first feature win. From there he advanced to mini sprints and at the age of 13, Briscoe won his first race in a 410 sprint car to break a record previously held by NASCAR Hall of Famer and four-time champion Jeff Gordon as the youngest driver to win in 410 sprint car race.
• By 2013, Briscoe was ready to follow in Stewart’s footsteps and transition from dirt to pavement. After moving to North Carolina where Briscoe slept on couches while volunteering in race shops, he was given the opportunity to run two ARCA Racing Series events for Cunningham Motorsports, the first being at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis. Those two starts were all that were needed to showcase Briscoe’s talent as he joined Cunningham fulltime in 2016. He won six ARCA races on his way to winning both rookie of the year honors and the season championship, where his margin over second place was a whopping 535 points.
• Briscoe has thrived in his transition to NASCAR, which was boosted by that ARCA title. He advanced to the NASCAR Truck Series in 2017, earning four poles and winning the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead. His 10 top-five and 14 top-10s allowed Briscoe to make the playoffs, finish sixth in points and score the series’ rookie of the year and most popular driver awards.
• Briscoe parlayed a limited Xfinity Series schedule in 2018 where he drove for both SHR and Roush-Fenway Racing into a full-time drive in 2019 for SHR. And in his first full season of Xfinity Series competition, Briscoe scored a berth in the NASCAR Playoffs by earning his second career Xfinity Series win in July at Iowa Speedway in Newton. He also scored two poles and 13 top-five and 26 top-10 results to finish fifth in the championship standings, all of which earned Briscoe the rookie of the year title.
CHASE BRISCOE, Driver of the No. 98 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang:
Do you have any idea what to expect on the road course at Indianapolis?
“I’ve been practicing on the simulator since February for the Indy race. It means the world to me to win there, but with it being new, nobody knows what to expect, so we’re trying to be the best we can be. I go to the simulator every Wednesday and I’ve been running at least an hour-and-a-half to two hours at Indy, just trying to get prepared for the racetrack. I feel like I’ve got a pretty good idea of where to make speed in our HighPoint.com Ford Mustang. It’s hard to really say how much the simulator will correlate over to the real-life thing, but I feel like I have a really good idea of what to do and I’m not going to be lost for those first couple of laps. Coming from Indiana and for someone who was a diehard Tony Stewart fan growing up, to have Zippy on the box for a win at Indy would be one of the coolest things. We’ve definitely put a lot of significance on that race and, hopefully, we can get it done. There would be nothing cooler than kissing the bricks, but I want to climb the fence, like Tony did.”
You race for a team co-owned by Tony Stewart. As a fellow Hoosier, does that give you a certain sense of pride?
“I don’t know what it is about Indiana, but I feel like everybody from Indiana has a special pride about being from Indiana. I’m not sure if it’s like that for other states, but there is something about us Hoosiers where we want to see other Hoosiers do well. There’s just a lot of pride in being from Indiana and trying to win for Indiana and, obviously, it’s even bigger when we go to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There is something about a Hoosier at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. You can even hear the crowd. They just get behind a fellow Hoosier. It’s nice for me and Tony to be from the same state, and it’s not like we’re from polar opposite ends of the state. We’re 45 minutes away from each other, so we grew up in the same area, going to the same places, and racing at the same places, so there’s definitely a pride in that.”
As a Hoosier, do you have the same reverence for Indianapolis Motor Speedway as drivers like Stewart?
“In any form of motorsports, Indianapolis is such an icon, and being from Indiana, there’s something special about that place. It’s hallowed ground. It’s a privilege to get to go there. That was the one place where my dad was literally almost in tears just because I got to race there and he got to see his son run laps there. I had been going up there for six or seven years as a spectator, as a kid, and just dreaming of going around that place, and to be able to race there for Tony Stewart, my hero, is pretty special.”
What would it be like to win at Indianapolis, especially this time around with no fans in attendance because of COVID-19?
“I hate that there’s not going to be fans at Indianapolis just because when I go there, there are so many people that come from my hometown and from my area that don’t get to see me race anywhere else. Just feeling the support every time I go there is so special. Last year in driver intros when we were riding around in the trucks, I literally had tears in my eyes from just the amount of people that were standing up and cheering for me. It would be bittersweet to win because none of my family would be there, and none of the fans that don’t get to watch me anywhere else. I’m not going to turn away a win at Indy just because there are no fans, but it is tough to go there and not have fans.”