Event: O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 (Round 31 of 33)
Date: Oct. 24, 2020
Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth
Layout: 1.5-mile oval
Chase Briscoe Notes of Interest
• Chase Briscoe is taking the stress out of the NASCAR Playoffs, at least for himself. The driver of the No. 98 Ford Performance Racing School Mustang has won the opening race in each round of the playoffs, ensuring his advancement into the next round. His win Sept. 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway punched his ticket to the Round of 8, and his victory last Saturday 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. It’s the surest path to the Championship 4, and one Briscoe has chosen early and often.
• And for the first time in his NASCAR career, Briscoe doesn’t have any stress about where he’ll be next year. The 25-year-old racer from Mitchell, Indiana, was tabbed to drive Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 14 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Cup Series beginning in 2021. It’s a passing of the torch from Tony Stewart, who drove the No. 14 from 2009 through his final NASCAR season in 2016, and Clint Bowyer, who took over the No. 14 in 2017 after Stewart’s retirement from fulltime NASCAR racing. This will be Bowyer’s last NASCAR season before transitioning to the television booth where he’ll begin broadcasting NASCAR races for FOX in 2021.
• In the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ most recent race at Kansas, Briscoe dominated. He led four times for a race-high 159 laps (79.5 percent of the laps available) and swept both stages before taking his series-leading ninth victory of 2020. Briscoe is just the fifth driver to earn nine or more wins in a single Xfinity Series season and he has the most wins of any Ford Performance driver in any Xfinity Series season – a mark previously held by Carl Edwards. His ninth win of the season also makes him just the second driver in series history to score nine wins in 30 races, joining only Kyle Busch, who accomplished this feat three times (2010, 2013 and 2016).
• It was three months ago when the Xfinity Series last raced at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Briscoe started 12th in the 37-car field and quickly settled into the top-10, where he stayed until the caution flag waved on lap 196 and sent the race into overtime. Briscoe opted to bring his Ford Mustang to pit road for four new tires and one final adjustment and lined up eighth for the restart. He gained four spots on the penultimate lap before clawing his way to second when the checkered flag dropped. Fellow Ford Mustang driver Austin Cindric crossed the finish line first, .949 of a second ahead of Briscoe.
• Briscoe has a total of four Xfinity Series starts at Texas with his runner-up finish in July being his best result. He also has two NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series starts at Texas. Both came in 2017 and both delivered top-fives. Briscoe led seven laps in the June event before being edged out on the final restart by Christopher Bell, the eventual series champion. In the Truck Series’ return to Texas in November, Briscoe finished fourth after starting 10th.
• Briscoe leads the championship standings by 52 points over second-place Justin Allgaier, though he has 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 957 laps this season, 760 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 6.7, an improvement over his 8.8 average starting position last year.
• Briscoe’s average finishing position is 7.9, bettering his 8.2 average finishing position in 2019.
Chase Briscoe, Driver of the No. 98 Ford Performance Racing School Mustang:
You’re locked into the Championship 4 at Phoenix, but there are two races left before the season finale. How do you approach this weekend’s race at Texas?
“The approach is the same as it’s been all year long. We’ll take our Ford Performance Racing School Mustang to Texas and try to win. There are still things that I can do better and there are three races left to win. I don’t think we treat it any differently. We don’t have to worry about points anymore, but we’ll go there with the mentality to win and try to lead every lap. That’s the mentality we’ve had all year long.”
Explain how your win at Kansas has changed race preparation for this weekend at Texas and beyond.
“From a preparation standpoint, I was just at the Ford Performance Tech Center on Monday running laps in the simulator at Phoenix. Our usual race preparation is still going on for Texas and Martinsville, but we’re already trying to get ready for Phoenix where normally we wouldn’t be doing that three weeks out. I even reached out to Kevin Harvick about coming to the simulator to help me get around Phoenix a little bit better. Being locked in early allows us to focus on that. If we weren’t, we would still be worried about Texas and Martinsville. We can now go into this weekend and next weekend looking to add wins, lead laps and just do what we know we can do. The stress of building up a points lead or staying out of trouble is done. We know we have a team capable of winning every week, but there are situations where you have to change strategy. We don’t have to worry about that anymore. It opens up a lot more doors for us.”