By Brian Eberly, Contributing Writer
Coming into Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Chase Briscoe hadn’t tested nor even fired the engine on the No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford. Briscoe indicated his goal was to finish the race and learn the most he could by completing all the laps. Mission accomplished, as he finished 15th in his NASCAR XFINITY Series debut with a clean race car.
It was a solid debut for the 23-year-old driver with less than 50 races of experience on pavement and the next step in a career that began back in 2001, the first time he climbed behind the wheel of a quarter midget.
Briscoe qualified 18th and had dropped a few positions in the early laps before the first caution flew at Lap 12. The No. 60 stayed out on track when the second yellow flag of the race waved with just a few laps remaining in Stage 1. Several of the leaders hit pit road, moving Briscoe up to the sixth position for the restart with just one lap left in the first stage.
With just nine cars staying out on old tires, a chaotic lap ensued to end Stage 1 in which Kevin Harvick won on fresh Goodyear rubber as those that elected to stay out dropped back through the field as they were easily overtaken by the cars that pitted for tires.
Briscoe finished Stage 1 in the 22nd position before hitting pit road for four tires, fuel and some major adjustments and restarting Stage 2 in 23rd. Eleven laps into the second stage, the team keyed up the radio and informed Briscoe his times were way better than the first run on tires. Picking cars off one-by-one, Briscoe ended Stage 2 in the 14th spot and hit pit road for four tires,fuel and a left rear adjustment.
Briscoe ran around the 15th spot throughout the remainder of the event, which included a green flag pit stop in the final stage.
Briscoe is slated to run 12 races in the No. 60 with Roush, splitting time in the seat with Austin Cindric and Ty Majeski. He will also make at least one start for Biagi-DenBeste Racing, the car in which Harvick dominated with on Saturday at Atlanta, leading 141 laps en route to the victory.
As part of the Ford Performance Driver Development Program, Briscoe will also compete in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Series this season.
Briscoe moves up from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, where he drove the No. 29 Ford for the now defunct Brad Keselowski Racing in 2017. The Mitchell, Indiana native won the season-finale at Homestead-Miami for his first NASCAR national series victory and took home the Rookie of the Year and Most Popular Driver Awards.
Briscoe first caught the attention of the folks at Ford with his performance during the 2016 ARCA Racing Series season. Briggs Cunningham and Kerry Scherer took a chance on a kid from Indiana without the typical financial backing seen in motorsports today and it paid dividends for both the organization and the young driver. Briscoe won six times and earned the first championship for the organization in dominating fashion, saying throughout the season he was blessed and crediting his success to the chance taken on him by the Cunningham organization.
Briscoe spent time earlier this week testing at Sebring for next month’s Continental Tire Challenge event before arriving at Atlanta, where he had the opportunity to speak with fellow Ford driver Harvick for the first time. In addition to relying on former owner Keselowski, Briscoe also has fellow Roush driver Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. from which to solicit advice as he continues to gain experience and make the transition from a dirt rack racer in the Midwest to a competitive driver in the top tiers of NASCAR.