Monday, May 23

Ford Performance NASCAR: Chase Briscoe and Hailie Deegan Preseason Preview

 

CHASE BRISCOE, No. 14 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang – WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST THING YOU LEARNED IN YOUR ROOKIE YEAR?  “I think the biggest thing I learned my rookie year was it takes a lot of things in the Cup Series to have a good result.  At the end of the day it takes every little detail, whether it’s getting off and on pit road under green, having a good pit stop – really every pit stop with no penalties, good restarts.  It literally takes every single thing to even be in the hunt at the end of the day.  There are days where you can do everything perfect and you’re still not in the hunt, so just trying to capitalize on those days where you have a good car and good speed and not make mistakes.  I think that was the biggest thing is last year I made a lot of mistakes, whether it was penalties or just not maximizing pit road and things like that.  So, I’m going to try and continue to do that next year and learn on those things and be able to capitalize when we do have a good car.”

 

DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY NXS RACES YOU WILL DO THIS YEAR?  “No, I don’t know that yet.”

 

WHAT SPECIFIC AREAS HAVE YOU AND THE TEAM BEEN WORKING ON TO IMPROVE YOUR OVAL PERFORMANCE AND HOW IMPORTANT WILL THE RETURN TO PRACTICE BE?  “We haven’t really said anything just because everything we kind of learned last year has been thrown out the window to a certain extent.  I kind of feel like we laid the groundwork and the foundation of what we need from a lingo standpoint.  Johnny understands by the tone of my voice how serious I am about things – just all the little stuff.  I feel like we have a good idea about those things, but what we’ve learned or what we need to improve on from last year from the car standpoint, all of that is irrelevant now because we’re going to this new car.  For us, there was a lot of time in ovals last year when we had good speed, but we weren’t able to capitalize or something would go wrong at the end.  We just need to do that more consistently.  Last year, out of the 36 races I would say we were only in the hunt for maybe eight or nine of them, so we just need to be more consistent.  For me, as a driver and as a team we just need to be better overall.  I think with this new car it definitely creates a lot of opportunities and for us going back now, last year our best races typically were anywhere where we had practice or anywhere we went back for the second time.  In some ways I feel like we didn’t get a fair shot at it our rookie year just because of the situation that we were in.  I felt like we were always trying to dig out of a hole, whether it was things like our starting position.  Hopefully, this year we’ll be in a way better spot just to even start these races.”

 

SHR WASN’T AT THE DAYTONA TEST LAST WEEK.  WHAT WERE YOUR TAKEAWAYS FROM HOW THE NEXT GEN CAR PERFORMS IN A PACK SITUATION AND HOW WILL THAT BE DIFFERENT FROM LAST YEAR?  “For me, I haven’t driven it so I was only watching.  I honestly didn’t watch a ton just because I was at the Chili Bowl the whole time, but, to me at least, it looked fairly similar to kind of what he had from a pack standpoint.  It didn’t look like it did a ton of things different.  I know talking to a couple guys here from a driving standpoint it drove like Daytona.  I was talking to McDowell and he had a good point.  The Truck, Xfinity, Cup car all drive different at Daytona, but it’s still Daytona.  They all drive the same in a sense, they just do things differently in the pack and how they react.  So, he said it drove just like any other car.  It’s still the same core Daytona.  The same things will apply, just the car does it a little differently.  That will be something we have to figure out whenever we get there and hopefully we can figure it out quickly and hopefully we can have a good car that will run.  I think that’s the big thing.  In the past you’ve seen teams that have a little bit of a car advantage when we go to Daytona or Talladega just with what they do with the body or things like that, where now it’s kind of going to be the same across the board I feel like.  Everybody’s parts are the same.  The bodies are the same.  Everybody’s stuff is the same, so it’ll be interesting how that changes the race.”

 

WHAT IS YOUR COMFORT LEVEL WITH THE NEXT GEN CAR AND HOW DOES IT RELATE TO YOUR DRIVING STYLE?  “To be honest with you, I’m probably not the best guy to ask.  I haven’t even driven it with how it’s supposed to be.  The last time I drove it we didn’t even have the package decided, so it’s hard for me to say one way or the other.  I’ll have a way better understanding after next week.  I’m gonna do the Phoenix test, so then I’ll finally get to drive the car how it’s gonna be.  For me to say one way or the other, it’s really not my place to say because I haven’t driven how it’s actually gonna be once we start racing.  I guess ask me next week and I’ll be able to give you a way better answer.”

 

HOW WAS YOUR CHILI BOWL EXPERIENCE?  “For us it was a little bit of a rough week.  I felt like that was probably the worst week I’ve had there in probably four or five years.  We were pretty good on our preliminary night.  I felt like we were gonna run fifth or sixth, which would have put us in the B Main on Saturday, but with 10 to go our bleeder stuck on the right-rear tire so it let all the air out.  I think we had two-and-a-half pounds in the right-rear tire and the track laid rubber, so we dropped to 11th, which put us in the C Main on Saturday.  And then in the C Main on lap one a guy spun out in front of me and it bent the shock and missed the transfer by one, so it wasn’t the week that I was necessarily hoping for.  I felt like we definitely had more speed than where we finished on Saturday, but we still didn’t have the speed.  We were probably middle of the pack as far as fast guys go, so we have a little bit of work to do on the midget stuff, but it’s always a fun time going to the Chili Bowl.  It was great to see a lot of my friends and people I don’t necessarily get to see all year long.”

 

WHAT STANDS OUT TO YOU IN REGARDS TO HAILIE AS A DRIVER?  “I think, for me, Hailie is a lot like myself in the sense she drives anything she can, whether it’s dirt stuff, pavement stuff, it’s neat for me to have another dirt person in the ring with Ford.  Her dirt background is totally different than what my dirt background was, but we both grew up racing on dirt.  Her lingo is pretty much the same, I feel like.  We kind of look for the same thing in a car. so I’m excited to get to Daytona and be with her.  This will be the second time I’ve done this with Hailie, so it will be fun to go down there.  The last time we were there was the first time she’d ever ran anything on a road course, so now to go back with her, she’s probably ran three or four truck races now and has run some other IMSA stuff, so it’ll be fun to see her improvement as a race car driver.  She does a really good job in a lot of different disciplines and it’ll be fun to go down there and do a totally fairly new discipline to both of us and go down there and just have a good time.”


HOW DOES DOING EVENTS LIKE THIS HELP YOU IN THE CUP CAR WITH ALL THE ROAD COURSES ON THE SCHEDULE?  “In the past I felt like it was good just to learn the road racing technique and learn some of these road course racetracks.  When NASCAR announced they were going to the Daytona Road Course and we were getting no practice, I had laps there because I had done this with Ford and IMSA before.  Now, more than ever, I feel like it will be a huge gain because these IMSA cars are fairly similar to the GT4 with the suspension, the brakes.  All of those things are relatively the same or at least more similar than ever before, so I’m excited to see how much it drives like a Next Gen car and see what I can take away from it this time.  Whether that’s things I can do as a race car driver or even things the team might change for setups or adjustments that I can take back to the Cup side and tell our Cup team to maybe try on a road course weekend.”

 

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT DAYTONA AND HOW DOES IT DIFFER FOR THESE TWO EVENTS?  “I think it’s neat.  I’ve done this for a couple years now, but I’ve never really been able to do it for the 500.  Just seeing the two differences.  It’s two totally different atmospheres between the IMSA stuff and the 500.  The fan base is totally different.  The NASCAR stuff, the fans are more about the drivers, but the IMSA fans are into the car.  The atmosphere is just so different between the two, so it’s neat for me to go to both.  The Rolex 24 is one of the biggest weekends of the year and then you go to the Daytona 500 a couple weeks later and it’s the biggest for motorsports in the U.S., so it’s really cool to see the two and to see the differences.  For me, to go from Chili Bowl and then go the IMSA garage and then the NASCAR garage, you just see three totally different types of fan bases and atmospheres and as a race fan it’s been really cool to be a part of and do that for a couple years and now to do it as a Daytona 500 driver instead of an Xfinity guy is gonna be really neat.”

 

HAILIE DEEGAN, No. 1 Monster Energy Ford F-150 – HOW WILL THIS IMSA RACE HELP YOU AS A DRIVER?  “I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun, and I have raced at Daytona before in the truck and in the IMSA car, so I think it’s just gonna be a good experience to be able to get seat time.  I feel that’s one thing that I’ve really buckled down and said for this 2022 year that I just need to get as much seat time as I can, whether it’s in dirt, circle track stuff, whatever I can drive.  I just want to get in and get more experience and I feel like one thing I could improve on, I can improve on a lot of things, but I feel like one thing that really is coming up more in the NASCAR world is road course races.  I feel like being able to race any type of road course it is, I think is just gonna better me as a driver.”

 

CHASE BRISCOE CONTINUED – IS THE IMSA STUFF MORE LAID BACK AND FUN FOR YOU THAN THE NASCAR SIDE?  “You just go there and it’s not that you’re taking it serious, it’s still a job, but at the end of the day if we don’t run good there’s not as many implications.  So, it’s definitely more of a low-key weekend, at least for me to go down there and just have fun and drive a race car.  There are no points on the line.  There are no implications when it comes to the playoffs or things like that, so, for sure, it’s definitely a little more low-key, but at the same time there’s still a lot to learn when you go down there.  It’s not that you don’t take it seriously, but it’s a totally different atmosphere than the Daytona 500 and the kind of intensity you bring to a race like that.”

 

HOW WAS YOUR PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE TEAMING UP WITH HAILIE IN 2020?  “I can’t remember what year it was.  It was one or two years ago, but I think that was the first time Hailie had ever driven on a road course if I remember right.  I guess I was probably on my fourth or fifth time in the IMSA stuff, so it was a lot of fun to see her progression from when we went down there to the Roar and when we came back for the race.  Now, she’s continued to run more and more road course stuff, so it’ll be cool to go back this time and she’ll be a totally different race car driver than the first time on a road course.  I know for me at least from the first time I went out there to the fourth or fifth time it was night and day, so I’m excited to see what she can do when we go down there.  It’s been a lot of fun.  Like I was telling somebody earlier, it was a lot of fun to go down there.  Hailie comes from a different background than me, but we both grew up dirt racing, so I feel like our lingo and what we look for in a race car is pretty similar.  Neither of us like a tight race car.  We both like it kind of sliding around a little bit more on the loose side, but it’s gonna be fun to go down there and see how much she’s progressed over the last couple of years since we’ve done it and just go down there and have fun and hopefully compete and run up front.”

 

HAILIE DEEGAN CONTINUED – HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU RUN THIS IMSA RACE?  “This will be my second time racing at Daytona in the IMSA car.”

 

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO GET OUT OF THE ROAR WEEKEND?  “I think what I want to get out of the Roar weekend is just as much seat time as possible, studying the data and looking over everything and figuring out where I can improve.  I feel like having a driver like Chase with me helping out and to be able to see what he does on the track and actually being able to go over the data of it and figure out where I can improve helps me a lot.  That’s something you can’t really do on the truck side.  There’s not much resources you have on the truck side of things to be able to do that, so being able to do that on a road course and actually seeing every braking point just helps a lot.”

 

SO THIS TEST COMING UP IS INVALUABLE IN YOUR MIND?  “Yeah, I feel like every time we get seat time and test I try to really maximize the information that I learn from it and just be able to get as much experience as possible and learn as much as I can as quick as possible.”

 

CHASE BRISCOE CONTINUEDHOW ARE YOU BETTER AS A DRIVER IN JANUARY 2022 COMPARED TO JANUARY 2021 AFTER ONE SEASON IN CUP AND WHAT SPECFIC AREAS OF YOUR SKILL SET ARE YOU MOST WANTING TO WORK ON OVER THE COURSE OF THIS SEASON?  “Everybody at the Cup Series level has been a winner their entire career.  They’ve won at some many different assets.  Even the guys running 25th have won their entire career, so, for me, the Cup side really opened up a lot of eyes.  In the Xfinity Series and the Truck Series, you’re only racing against seven, eight, nine, 10 guys and you can make mistakes and get away with it and still win.  You can even make multiple mistakes and still win, where on the Cup side you can literally do everything perfect and still run 15th.  So, just trying to figure out how to minimize those mistakes was probably the hardest thing for me.  I was just looking the other day and there was a stat that I think I had more penalties on pit road than anybody in the whole field, so just trying to do less of that – maximize every little thing you can do on the racetrack, minimize mistakes, whether it’s a penalty on pit road or even on the racetrack.  Those guys are so good.  They’ve all been racing 15-20 years.  They’ve been running 500 miles every weekend for 15-20 years.  They’re just good.  They have so much race craft.  They know where to put their car to make it hard for you to pass.  They’ve seen every situation, so, for me, getting that experience of racing around guys that are much, much better, much more experienced than me was huge I felt like the first year.  Hopefully, I can use that to my advantage this coming year and really just maximize that.  But then I would say the biggest area where I would like to improve is just short tracks.  I feel like I’m probably the only guy in the entire field in the Cup Series that has never short track raced my entire life.  I never ran a late model.  I never ran anything.  The first time I ever ran a short track was in the Truck Series at Martinsville, stuff like that.  I feel like I really struggle when we go to places that have that short track feel – a Martinsville, a Richmond, a New Hampshire.  Those have always been statistically my worst racetracks and just how you have to drive the car at those places I really struggle.”

 

HAILIE DEEGAN CONTINUED – CAN YOU MEASURE HOW VALUABLE GETTING PRACTICE IN THE TRUCK SERIES WILL BE FOR YOU THIS YEAR?  “I would say last year it took me probably twice as long as it would normally just to get comfortable and to figure out the ropes in the Truck Series, just for the sole fact that there was no practice my first time.  Being able to drive on that track was the green flag, so it just made it very difficult to learn as a rookie driver in the Truck Series, trying to figure out how the trucks handle, trying to figure out how these tracks are since most of the tracks we went to were new tracks for me, so when you don’t get that valuable seat time there, it does make it a lot tougher to learn, so I feel like that definitely took us a while to figure out the ropes and get a good base under us.  It did take a lot longer, but I feel like we definitely did get that solid base last season even if it did take longer.  To be able to go into this season, into 2022, and be better right off the bat, not have to work up to things and just the practice side of things this year will be able to help me now that I know the changes that we need to make to the truck and really know how to affect the truck, to be able to make those decisions during practice in the short amount of time span that we do have.”

 

HOW DO YOU FEEL YOU DID LAST YEAR IN ALL THE DIFFERENT SERIES YOU COMPETED IN?  “I would say my main thing as a driver, I’d say as a whole, is being able to get experience in multiple types of racing.  I feel like that makes you an overall better driver, just to be able to have those tools in your toolbox, just to be able to say, ‘Oh, I’ve driven that.  I know how that feels.’  You learn something new from every single type of car and form of racing you participate in.  Last year was crazy.  We did race a lot and what’s crazier is that we’re racing even more races this year, so it’s gonna make it more of an interesting time and I feel like it’s also gonna make it a lot better for me just gaining that experience and education.”

 

WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU NEED TO IMPROVE IN THE TRUCK SERIES THIS YEAR?  “It’s hard to say what we’re gonna see out of DGR this year.  I know that we do have that new 2022 truck and I’m hoping that is gonna help out a lot.  It seems like from the data that they have it looks to be a lot better, so I think we’re gonna go out there and be a lot more competitive as a whole team.  From a team standpoint, we do have a lot of the same guys back on my program that were there last year and I felt like they were really good and I feel like we mesh really well and built a good relationship.  I feel being able to take that relationship from last year with those crew guys and crew members and follow it with the next year I feel like it just makes as a whole a better group and more trust into each other.  Them trusting me and me trusting them what they’re doing to the truck so I feel like we’re definitely gonna be a lot stronger as a team, but me personally as a driver I feel like my goal is just kind of to maximize and really – that little bit of those mistakes that I’m making in every area of where I could be a little bit better, just really maximizing that to make sure those mistakes are minimal, whether they’re pit road, whether it’s restarts, whatever it is – qualifying, down to the littlest things, just to be able to perfect everything and not make mistakes.”

 

ARE YOUR CREW CHIEF AND SPOTTER THE SAME FROM LAST YEAR?  “Yes.”

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT CHASE’S DRIVING STYLE AND LOOKING FORWARD THE MOST TO WORKING WITH HIM?  “I would say that it’s kind of cool that we have some type of similar background.  I didn’t grow up short track racing.  That was totally new to me.  I short tracked after a truck race, but that’s not the same.  That’s something that definitely I feel like we find in common.  I feel like that kind of dirt racer feel is to drive in a little bit harder, so I know that his braking points are definitely gonna be that maximum level, so there are some things you just know about other dirt racers and you have that feel and that certain driving style where you maybe overdrive it a little bit, but that’s kind of anticipated when you restart, so I think it’s just gonna make it a little bit easier to understand.  Our lingo will be a lot similar as he said, but I feel like he’s a good person to look up to and kind of see as a mentor role of being able to be like, ‘Hey, I need help with us or I need help with that.’  I definitely trust his opinion and his experience with everything.”

 

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DRIVE THAT YOU HAVEN’T HAD THE CHANCE TO DO YET?  “Chili Bowl in a midget is something I haven’t driven before.  That’s something I haven’t driven before.  I do have a micro, but I think those are some bucket list items that would be cool to race eventually.”

 

HOW IS THE NEW TRUCK DIFFERENT?  “I’d say it’s just gonna perform a lot better where air really matters.  I would say the body style on it is definitely an improvement and I feel it’s gonna help us perform and just make more speed overall.  There are some tracks that we could go to and be like, ‘Man, the truck feels good, but we just need a little more speed.’  I feel like that’s where they’ve really maximized on this new truck, just to be able to minimize everything we were missing out on and I feel like they’ve made so many great improvements.  The wind tunnel testing looked great, so I’m hoping it performs as great as the data looks and I have a feeling it will.”

 

ANY RACES CIRCLED ON YOUR CALENDAR OR TRACKS YOU WANT TO REDEEM YOURSELF ON?  “I’d say one I’m excited for is Sonoma, just because I’ve raced there before in the K&N Series and qualified on the pole, so I know it’s possible for me to do good there.  I would say that’s one I’m excited for.  As far as redeeming myself, I would say that would have to be the Bristol dirt track.  I’d say that’s one.  Now that I have race there I’m going to set my truck up a lot different than I did the last time.  I feel like there are two ways to set up your truck for that race.  You either have it really good at the beginning or really good at the end and I had mine really good at the beginning and we weren’t there at the end.  Just going to those dirt races it’s a whole new world for NASCAR.  Most dirt races are short.  Most of them are around 30 laps, at least most of the ones I’ve race before – 30, 50 laps, whatever it is – they’re pretty short races.  They happen quick.  When you get to the NASCAR side of things they’re a lot longer and the track changes a lot.  Dirt changes a lot quickly.  You do see a lot of change on those shorter races that normal dirt cars are on, but I’d say that’s one major thing that when you get to these NASCAR dirt races is the track goes night and day different, so you’ve got to be there at the end and you’re there at the beginning.”

 

WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED IN MORE IMSA OPPORTUNITIES DEPENDING ON YOUR SCHEDULE?  “For sure.  I want to race as much as I can, whatever car it is.  I would take any car out there to drive, whether it’s a go-kart, whatever, I’ll race pretty much anything, any opportunity that I get.  On my schedule right now between all the racing, which some of it I haven’t released yet, I have about 50 races on my schedule so even though it’s not as many truck races as necessarily the Xfinity or Cup Series would be I’m definitely jam-packed with racing this year.”

 

WOULD YOU LIKE TO RETURN TO SRX THIS YEAR?  “I would definitely love to return to the SRX Series.  I don’t think they’ve released a schedule yet, so I’m just kind of waiting on their call.  I know I talked to Ray and Tony last year and they said they would love to have me back, which is great to be able to hear that that opportunity is still there to come back and race in that series.  That would be an awesome thing to do, so I’m kind of just waiting on their end, trying to figure out what the game plan is what races I’d be available to race.”

 

OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS AS YOU’VE MOVED UP IN DIFFERENT SERIES AND THE SPOTLIGHT HAS GOTTEN BRIGHTER WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME CHALLENGES YOU’VE FACED IN GETTING ACCUSTOMED TO THAT ATTENTION?  “I would say that I was always around it because of my dad.  I was always kind of on the outside of the circle looking in and seeing him experience it, it almost became normal in my family.  My little brother is very popular too.  He’s one of the most followed motor racers, so he’s definitely in the spotlight too.  My dad is.  There’s just a lot going on in our family when it comes to social media and having a large fan base.  It almost become normal, but one end of the challenge I find with that is if another driver, say another driver in the Truck Series was to go race the Chili Bowl for the first time, they could stay pretty well under cover and kind of just go there and be able to get seat time and have fun, whereas if I went and race it, it would be a lot more in the spotlight, so if I’m gonna go there I want to go there and be ready to perform.  I don’t want to go there and just kind of be lost, so that’s one thing – it makes me have to always be prepared for every race that I race, more so than anyone else would have to be.”

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