By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
For this week’s edition of Climbing the Ladder, Seth Eggert sat down with Brad Keselowski Racing driver Chase Briscoe. Briscoe is a 22-year-old NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver. Briscoe drives the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford F-150. Briscoe is campaigning for the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship as well as Rookie of the Year honors.
Seth Eggert: What made you follow in the footsteps of your father and grandfather, who both competed in USAC, in motorsports?
Chase Briscoe: I ran a lot of USAC stuff, but to me, all the best USAC guys, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, all of those guys always moved on to NASCAR so for me, if you were the best racecar driver you kind of wanted to be here. In USAC, you can make a decent living, but it’s not a great living by any means even if you’re working hard. Here you can actually make a comfortable living.
I always thought that I would do better on pavement than I was dirt. I struggled quite a bit in dirt sprint cars I felt like. I always wanted to try it, never thought I would get the opportunity, and once the doors opened up, I just had to keep taking them.
SE: Where and when was your first race? What was the result?
CB: When I was seven-years-old, I ran at a place called ‘Mini-Indy,’ and I won. I ran one other time when I was seven, and then didn’t race until I was 11. So, I didn’t race for four years and then raced 10 or 15 times before I jumped into a sprint car.
SE: Who would you consider your mentor?
CB: My Dad. He had a really successful career, won over 200 races. He’s the kind of guy I try to learn from the most because I was always going to the racetrack with him and my Grandpa. I feel like watching you can learn from anybody. My Dad was always there for me to ask questions and give me the best advice. He would always give me the hard advice and what I needed to hear
SE: What inspires you to compete?
CB: Honestly, I just like winning. It’s something I’m good at. I’m not that good at many other things. As long as it’s something I can always compete in, it’s a challenge. You learn something every time you go out there.
With just how much of a team effort it is, I really enjoy being part of a team, and how everything has to come together to be successful. That’s why I enjoy it and that’s what makes me do it.
SE: Is there a specific track that you would like to win at in the Truck Series?
CB: Whichever the next one is. I don’t have any preference more for one over any other one. I really just want to win as many as I may need to.
SE: You won the 2016 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Championship, and that was your first full-time season, what does that mean to you?
CB: It was huge. I had never run for a championship before in my entire career, so to finally run for one and to be successful at it was a big deal. Obviously, Briggs Cunningham and everybody at Cunningham were the people who gave me my first opportunity and to deliver them their first championship was very special.
SE: Is it intimidating for you to be driving for Brad Keselowski, the 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion?
CB: I don’t think it is intimidating. I think it’s a blessing honestly with everything Brad has done. He has won a championship at the highest level, so to be able to have that guy in your corner I think it’s intimidating, but more of a bonus and it’s definitely been a big help.
SE: You competed in the Peak Stock Car Dream Challenge and finish second in that competition. How did that competition help your career?
CB: That was the first time I ever got to climb into a stock car. I think that’s what kick-started me and gave me the opportunity to be in front of a couple of people that were influential in the sport. I never thought I would have the opportunity to drive a stock car, so for me to finally be able to do that and to kind of see if I would be able to compete at this level.
So, I feel like that kick-started my whole entire career in stock cars and pavement racing. I’m definitely thankful that I had that opportunity.
SE: Do you think that competitions like that would help others?
CB: I think whatever route you can take to get there works. I don’t think that it was the key factor as to why I’m here. I think it was certainly a help, but winning races and championships at the end of the day is what people want. They’re not going to hire someone who is not winning races. If you’re winning races at any level, whether it’s a local Friday night track or wherever it is certainly a way to get your name out there and to get experience.
SE: Your teammate this season Austin Cindric is also a rookie. Do you feel like this helps or hurts you going into each race weekend?
CB: Not really. Austin and I, we come from two totally separate backgrounds as it is. Me being a dirt guy, him being a road course guy, there’s already that barrier. The lack of experience that we both have we make up for with Brad. Brad tells us anything we need. I don’t think it adds any real disadvantage to us.
SE: Earlier this year, you joined Ford Performance’s NASCAR driver development program. How has that helped your journey this year?
CB: It’s huge. I feel like that is the biggest milestone of my career. Being set up with a manufacturer, it’s really a big deal because they can help control your destiny along all three series. It’s given me opportunities in other areas. I’ve gotten simulator time, gone over to the road course and test driven some Mustangs. It has broadened my entire horizon as far as driving opportunities. Definitely a blessing for sure.
SE: What does the future hold for you, where will you be one year from now?
CB: I don’t know honestly. I feel like whatever happens next year at this time is determined by what happens the rest of the year. You’re only as good as your last race. I just have to start winning races at this level and hopefully I’ll be able to move on to the next level.