Ford Performance Racing School: Daytona Road Course Advance for Chase Briscoe

Notes of Interest

 

•  Ford Performance Racing School reunites with Chase Briscoe in the NASCAR Cup Series after a successful nine-win partnership in the NASCAR Xfinity Series last season. Ford Performance Racing School is the only school to wear the Ford oval, and Ford is the only full-line vehicle manufacturer to offer product-focused experiential driving programs exclusively to the owners of its complete line of performance vehicles, from cars to trucks to SUVs.

 

•  Briscoe looks to better his top-20 finish from last weekend’s season-opening Daytona 500, his first Cup Series start, as he and his fellow competitors return to Daytona to compete Sunday on the 3.61-mile, 14 turn-road course layout. Briscoe has one Xfinity Series start on the road course at Daytona, but the 29th-place result was not indicative of his early race success. After leading twice for a race-high 26 laps and winning Stage 2, Briscoe was caught up in an accordion-like, multicar accident at the entry to turn one as those around him overshot the corner. He was in fourth place as the field entered the first left-hand turn, and Briscoe tried to clear the frontrunners by overtaking them on the outside. But the top-three cars each ran wide, pushing Briscoe off the track, and as he came off the turn and onto a straight before the International Horseshoe, he got sandwiched between two other cars. This sent Briscoe spinning into the grass, whereupon the nose of his Ford Mustang sustained heavy damage. The team was unable to make repairs and Briscoe had to retire his racecar with a disappointing 29th-place finish. It was his first DNF (Did Not Finish) in 35 races, a streak dating back to July 5, 2019 when Briscoe was collected in a multicar accident during the Firecracker 250 on Daytona’s 2.5-mile superspeedway.

 

•  The Daytona road-course race is the first of a ground-breaking seven NASCAR Cup Series races to be held on road courses in 2021. From 1988 to 2017, there were only two road courses on the schedule – Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. The Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval was added in 2018, giving the series just three road-course venues. The initial 2021 schedule doubled that tally, with Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course all being added. And when COVID-19 restrictions forced the cancellation of the series’ stop at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, the Daytona road course was put in its place.

 

•  In addition to the Xfinity Series last August, Briscoe competed on the Daytona road course three times in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race that is a prelude to the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona. His best finish was fifth in 2019, when he teamed with Austin Cindric and former IMSA champion Billy Johnson in a Ford Mustang GT4.

 

•  Briscoe was considered one of the stronger road-course racers in the Xfinity Series and hopes that success carries into the Cup Series. The 26-year-old racer from Mitchell, Indiana, picked up his first career Xfinity Series victory in the series’ inaugural race on the Charlotte Roval in 2018. He also fulfilled his childhood dream of kissing the historic Yard of Bricks when he won last summer on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was his fifth win of the 2020 season.

 

•  Briscoe finished among the top-10 in all but three of the 10 road-course races in which he competed in the Xfinity Series. And in his lone NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start on a road course – 2017 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario – Briscoe finished seventh in a Ford F-150.

 

Chase Briscoe, Driver of the No. 14 Ford Performance Racing School Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing

 

Your first Cup Series race is in the books. Was there anything that surprised you, or have your expectations shifted after spending some time on track with the guys you’ll race against every week?
“It was eye-opening, to say the least. I wish I could’ve been up in the pack more and really taken advantage of my first time on track. When I was up in the mix, it was definitely a different ballgame, though. Daytona is unique, but even when you take that out of the equation, the intensity level is still so much higher. That was the biggest difference for me. Everyone is so good at balancing being aggressive at times and still being there at the end and timing things just right. It’s such a mind game. The mental game on the Cup side is way more complex than I ever expected. I learned a ton and I’m getting a better idea of how to drive races with this group and think through things as we go.”

 

Even with the challenges during the Daytona 500, we got a good look at the team’s ability to persevere. We know you want to go out and knock off top-10 finishes, but is fighting through the challenges the top priority early in the season?
“Absolutely. The 14 team did such a good job of continuing to fight until the end. With everything we dealt with, to finish 19th was still a little sickening because I felt like we could’ve definitely finished in the top-10. But overall, we could’ve easily given up. We have to continue to make small gains and learn as much as possible. I’m a rookie. I’m learning more with each lap and, at the end of the day, the whole team did a good job supporting me through that. Johnny (Klausmeier, crew chief) did a great job calling the race and trying to get us back into it. Things just didn’t fall our way. I have things to learn and they’re still learning how I work. It’ll take some time, but we don’t give up and that’s what is most important. We have plenty of races to find success and I want to perform well for myself and for them, but we need to be smart about it.”

 

You’ve had some road-course success in the past. Do you expect that you’ll be able to pull from that experience and potentially run up front this weekend, or is this more of a learning experience for later in the year?
“The Cup car is still quite a bit of an unknown for me, as far as how it drives compared to what I’ve raced in the past, and that’s really what I’m most anxious about. I’ve had success on road courses, and I’ve become more comfortable with that style of driving, but just because I did well in the Xfinity Series doesn’t mean it’s going to follow in Cup. I’m very curious to see how I compare. The Daytona road course is one I’m very comfortable with as far as getting around it, but the car is going to drive differently from anything I’ve driven before. It’s going to take time and I wish I could have run the Busch Clash and had that extra time so I would feel like it’s more of an even playing field. We’ll try to do the best we can. It’ll be a long race, longer than any race I’ve run on a road course. I’ll try to learn the most I can with each stage and be there at the end. That’s the approach for these first few races – run the whole race, learn as much as I can, and be there at the end. I feel like this is a great opportunity for us to have a good race if we can put all the pieces together.”

 

Typically, the second race of the season is when teams get a good idea of what they need to work on for a majority of the races on the schedule. Does that still stand with the second race now being a road course?
“It changes a little, but I feel like the second race is still where you kind of shift gears to the next phase of learning for the season. We used to be able to look at Daytona as its own thing and then the second race would come around and you go from the mindset of survival and taking advantage of track position to really see what you had for a 1.5-mile track, or something like that. With that being said, this is a great opportunity for us to build some early momentum and confidence. These guys have run this car on the Daytona road course, but they still don’t have a ton of extra experience, so I don’t feel too far behind. It’s a great thing for us. We know we’ll be competitive if you look back at how Clint (Bowyer) ran these road courses. He was always pretty good, balance-wise, so we know that we’ll have a good starting point. It’ll just be a matter of me figuring out what I need to do to be better. More road-course races later in the season, even on different tracks, makes this a good chance for us to learn something that I can use to maximize our opportunity to get big finishes. I have done well on road courses and I enjoy running them, but I still have a lot to learn, and having more road courses means that this second race is just as important as it’s always been, as far as seeing what you’ll need to work on down the road.”

 

Your teammates ran the Busch Clash last Tuesday night. Have you had a chance to talk with them about what they learned during the race?
“I talked with all three after the Busch Clash. It was a great practice for them, and we talked about setups and what we need to adjust and plan for as a team. They definitely have more insight for this race since they’ve run this particular track in the same car. I will for sure keep talking with them up until race day so that I can take in as much information as possible before we get our Ford Performance Racing School Mustang on track.”

 

 

TSC PR

Speedway Digest Staff

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