Saturday, Oct 01

Ford Performance NASCAR: Chase Briscoe Excited for Cup Playoff Debut at Darlington

CHASE BRISCOE, No. 14 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang – DO YOU FEEL LIKE THIS IS A SECOND LIFE FOR THE SEASON?  “Yeah, for sure.  For us, we’ve had small glimpses of, truthfully, I feel like we’ve had speed every week, but unlike a lot of times we run anywhere from seven to 12th for a lot of the race and then we finish 18th to 23rd the last 60 laps, where other teams have kind of done the opposite.  They run 17th to 21st a lot of the day and then at the end they find themselves from seventh to 12th.  For us, it’s kind of nice to have a little bit of a reset button.  I know we have the speed, it’s just a matter of putting the whole race together.  There are a lot of variables that determine that, but I definitely think it’s a bit of a second life to a certain extent and one I’m looking forward to having.”

 

HOW CLOSE DID YOU COME TO FLIPPING ON SUNDAY AND HOW HARD OF A HIT WAS IT?  “It was definitely a unique crash.  I didn’t think I was gonna get airborne.  I felt like I had been sliding for quite a while.  When I first originally felt that I got airborne and came back down I figured somebody probably hit me in the door, but I never felt anybody hit me in the door.  And then when I went back and watched it I saw just naturally went up.  Luckily, it came back down, but I’ve flipped sprint cars obviously growing up racing them and getting in the air is definitely different in one of those versus a stock car, but, honestly, the landing, I was surprised.  It wasn’t that bad.  I don’t know if I landed luckily how it landed, but it wasn’t as bad.  My neck is still a little bit sore, but I don’t feel like that was from getting air, I felt like that was probably just from hitting the wall.  I felt all good.  I wish that it didn’t happen, but glad it didn’t get any worse than it could have been.”

 

CAN YOU COMPARE WHERE YOU ARE NOW FROM A YEAR AGO AND HAVING THAT RESET TO HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP?  “It’s definitely different.  Last year, not that you don’t have anything to not race for anymore, but it’s just different when you’re not in the playoffs.  You’re going to the racetrack and you know the focus isn’t gonna be on you and you know the attention is just different when you’re not in the playoffs.  I think for me this year it’s definitely different to know that you have a shot at still winning a championship, just being in the playoffs, all of the things that come from that just from an attention standpoint for our partners and things like that is definitely different.  It’s nice.  I feel like our team is excited.  For us, we won at Phoenix in the third or fourth week of the year, so we’ve had a long time to think about the playoffs and think about what we’re gonna do and how we’re gonna try to do things in the playoffs and now that they’re finally here, it’s nice because we have had a really, really long time to think about them truthfully.  I’m excited that they’re inally here.  It is gonna be nice to hit the reset button.  We haven’t done a lot of things well the last two or three months and haven’t really had the finishes to show for what I feel like the speed we’ve had.  Hopefully, we can hit the gate running these first three weeks or the next three weeks for this first round and kind of show what I know we’re capable of.  I feel like they’re all really good racetracks for me career-wise too, so I’m looking forward to it and hopefully we can surprise a lot of people.”

 

THERE IS MORE PARITY THIS YEAR AS FAR AS POINT DIFFERENTIAL.  IS IT MORE WIDE-OPEN THIS YEAR?  “I think so.  It definitely makes it a little bit easier when there’s not a huge point spread.  At the same time because it’s so tight, I think it makes it even more important that you can’t have a bad race.  And I think the other thing people are overlooking with these playoffs is in the past the playoff guys were so much faster from a speed standpoint that the non-playoff guys didn’t even have a chance to win any of the races or truthfully contend in the top five to 10 sometimes, where now there are legitimately seven to eight guys that can still go win races that aren’t in the playoffs and that are still gonna be battling inside the top five and top 10 that still have a lot to race for.  So, I think that’s gonna be even tougher this year in the playoffs than ever before just because you’re gonna have a lot of non-playoff guys up there in the mix that normally with the old car you just wouldn’t have that from a speed standpoint, where with the Next Gen there’s just so much more parity, so many more guys that can run up front, so the point spread is probably gonna be a little bigger than normal because before if you were a playoff guy, you were gonna run top 15 fairly easy, where now you can be a playoff guy and run 21st just because there are a lot more guys that can run up front, so it’s gonna be interesting and to see how that plays out.  The first two rounds, I think, are the toughest two rounds just because you can eliminate yourself and kind of how the racetracks play out.  There are a lot of opportunities to make mistakes at those racetracks, so hopefully that’s one thing we haven’t done a great job of this year is limiting mistakes, but hopefully we can do that now.”

 

DO YOU FEEL AS SAFE AS YOU CAN IN THIS NEXT GEN CAR OR DOES NASCAR NEED TO DO MORE TECH ON IT?  “For me, I’ve only crashed the Next Gen car, truthfully, twice where I feel like it was a hard wreck and they were both at superspeedways.  Both of them were way better than I thought they were gonna be.  The Talladega wreck, for sure, I thought was gonna be way worse from a feel standpoint and I felt fine.  I was sore the next day or two, but I feel like that was kind of typical.  Obviously, I think there’s still stuff we can do to make it better, but I think in the old car there was still stuff we could do to make it better, so I think that’s the hard thing right now with the Next Gen car is with the old car we literally probably had thousands of data points that we could look at in crashes, where right now we’re not even probably in the hundreds yet, so it’s just hard to kind of pinpoint what we need to do better on this car and as it runs and as we get through the years I’m sure we’re gonna continue to make progress on it and make it better, but I think it’s always a moving target.  You’re never gonna be perfectly safe, I don’t think.  You’re a race car driver.  You’re driving nearly 200 miles an hour and anything can happen, but the safer we can make it, the better.  I’m confident that NASCAR wouldn’t send us out there if it wasn’t something that they don’t think is safe, so, yeah, can it be safer?  Absolutely, but, at the same time, I do think I’ve taken two hard hits and I’ve felt OK.  At the same time, obviously Kurt is sitting out.  Everybody’s body reacts different.  Yeah, I absolutely think it could still be safer, but I think it’s safe right now at the same time and I don’t think it’s ever gonna be bulletproof.  It’s just a hard object.  It’s a moving target and until we get more data on it, it’s gonna be really hard to kind of pinpoint it, I think.”

 

HOW ARE YOU APPROACHING THESE NEXT THREE WEEKS IN THE FIRST ROUND?  “I think it’s not to eliminate ourselves in this first round.  Darlington, especially, the Southern 500 there are gonna be a lot of opportunities to tear your car up at some point in the race running up on the wall.  I think, just for me, the regular season and, like I was saying earlier, I just haven’t done a very good job of finishing where our car had the speed for, and I think these next three weeks if we have an eighth-place car, just try to run seventh or eighth with it.  Don’t try to win with it and then end up costing yourself with a 10-spot difference.  You just have to be smart about it in the playoffs and understand the bigger picture and that’s something I haven’t done a great job of this year.  I think that’s my biggest focus these next three weeks is just limiting mistakes, doing all the little details right, and I feel like as long as you do the little details right this first round, you should be able to point your way through because there are gonna be guys that eliminate themselves just by making mistakes and if you can limit your mistakes and not make them super detrimental, I think then you should be able to make it out of that first round.  At least that’s what we’re gonna try to do.”

 

DARLINGTON AND BRISTOL HAVE BEEN GOOD TRACKS FOR YOU.  DOES THAT GIVE YOU MORE CONFIDENCE AT THOSE TWO PLACES SPECIFICALLY?  “Yeah, I mean, truthfully how the playoffs are at the racetracks I feel like all 10 of them, with the exception of Talladega, are all really, really good racetracks for me statistically and I just enjoy going to all of them with the exception of Talladega just because of what can happen there.  So, yeah, I’m definitely excited.  I feel like this first round I’ve won at all three of these tracks before.  The next round we have the Roval in there and Texas has been really good to me, too.  Yeah, I’m definitely excited.  I know I’m capable of doing it, it’s just a matter of putting it all together and, like I said, limiting mistakes.  If we can do that, there’s no reason why we can’t make it to Phoenix because I feel we’ve shown when we do all the things right, whether it’s at Phoenix earlier in the year or the Coke 600.  When we put the whole race together, we’re always right there battling for the win.  It’s just a matter of doing that all day long and that’s where I’ve struggled, as a team we’ve struggled a little bit doing that as well, so if we can do all the little things right and if we can to Phoenix, we know we’re capable of getting it done there as well.  We just have to limit mistakes and I know that’s hard to change in a matter of a week, but I think if we really put our mind to it and really focus on it, the regular season we still made them, but we didn’t have the pressure of the playoffs and there was no penalty if you went for trying to win the race, where now there’s a huge penalty.  I think you just have to manage it all and hopefully I can do a better job behind the wheel and just give my team the best opportunity to try to get to Phoenix.”

 

ANY IDEA HOW DIFFERENT THE CUP PLAYOFFS WILL BE COMPARED TO XFINITY?  “It’s hard because until you’re actually there and experience it I think it’s hard to say exactly what it’s gonna be like, but I know, for me at least in the Truck Series and even the Xfinity Series, the intensity definitely ratchets up.  The stages, I remember in Xfinity I think it was at Kansas, battling for seventh was some of the hardest racing I’d ever done just because I knew that one point was gonna make a difference and now with the Cup Series I think it’s gonna be different this year too, just because of what I was saying earlier about all the non-playoff guys that can still run up front.  I think just the intensity is gonna ratchet up even more than it already has, so, yeah, I think until I get going at Darlington and kind of feel out how the intensity is gonna be, I think it’s one way to expect what it’s gonna be like but until you get out there and do it, I know it’s gonna be more intense than what I’ve done throughout the regular season just because it’s way more cut throat.  Every position matters even more, so we’ve just got to go there.  Until we experience it, it’s gonna be hard for me to sit here and tell you what it’s gonna be like, but I think I have an idea.”

 

YOU HAVE BEEN TO DARLINGTON AND KANSAS WITH THIS CAR ALREADY.  DOES THAT BRING SOME COMFORT AS THE PLAYOFFS START?  “Yes and no.  I think if you were really good there the first race, then yeah, absolutely, it probably brings you a little bit of comfort.  For us, I will say Darlington was probably a little more of a struggle than we originally thought it was gonna be just because it has been a really good track for me in the past.  We think we know what we kind of were doing wrong there, so I’m definitely confident this time around that we’re gonna be a lot better.  Kansas, we were really, really good out there.  I think I was running fourth or fifth and I spun out, so that was on me.  I know we’re gonna have a car capable of going there and running good.  We just have to go week by week and kind of see what hand you’re dealt for the following week because it’s gonna determine how you have to run the race, how aggressive you’ve got to be just because of your point situation.  It’s gonna be nice to kind of know what to feel, especially at Darlington and Kansas – the feel you’re trying to find in practice and kind of know what to expect from a car driving standpoint for sure.”

 

ARE YOU STILL WORKING WITH A PERSONAL TRAINER?  “I’ve been Pelotoning at home.  I don’t know if that counts as a personal trainer or not, but, no.  We used to have Dan Jansen and when COVID happened Ford let Dan go and I think now he’s actually with Chevy, but I was always using Dan from 2017-2020 and then after that I haven’t had one since.  I started going a little bit to Pit Fit and then it was like 45 minutes from my house, so I quit doing that and I kind of just do my own deal at home now.”

 

ANY CHANGES TO YOUR DIET OR FITNESS TO TRY AND MAKE YOURSELF AS PHYSICALLY FIT AS POSSIBLE?  “No.  I know for the last four weeks I’ve tried to be better about just working out and trying to be in the best shape.  I haven’t felt like at any time this year I’ve been out of shape in a race, so I don’t know.  I’ve tried to slim down for the playoffs a little bit.  I think I’m down eight points right now, so I’m trying to do everything I can for my team at least to be a little bit better.”

 

DOES SHR HAVE A NUTRITIONALIST ON BOARD JUST TO HELP KEEP YOU FIT?  “No.  At one point, I want to say in 2019 we had one for like literally two months and then not anymore.”

 

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM YOUR TEAMMATES AND TONY ABOUT THE PLAYOFFS?  “I think obviously like we were talking earlier about the second win question, kind of the same as Tony was in 2011.  Everybody had written him off and thought there was no way he should even be in the playoffs and he even said it himself and then to go out there and make a run like he did.  I think using that to your advantage and knowing that it is a reset in a certain sense.  Everything we did the first 26 weeks, yeah, it mattered to get to this point, but now you could win the first 26 races and if you have three bad races in a row, you’re out of the playoffs.  It’s all kind of irrelevant to a certain extent outside of getting you here.  So I think, for us, just using that to go and know that, ‘hey, just because we’ve had a bad two, three months doesn’t mean we still can’t do this.’  We’re fully capable of making a run and then just talking to some of my teammates that have been in playoffs just about limiting mistakes and making sure that you don’t eliminate yourself.  That’s kind of the big thing, especially the first round – how you don’t have to win.  You can point your way there and that’s something that is hard for me, obviously, at times is to understand the bigger picture and realize you don’t always have to win the race or try to take a 12th-place car and win with it – that you have to be able to take a 12th-place car and run ninth with it.  That’s a huge day when it comes to playoff time, so just talking to those guys from that side of things has been a big help.  I’ll probably talk to Kevin before Darlington and kind of just feel him out a little bit more about things I guess I should try to work on, but outside of that, that’s really it.”

 

DOES IT HELP YOU TO HAVE A TEAMMATE IN THE PLAYOFFS WITH THIS CAR?  “I don’t know.  It’s hard to say.  From a company standpoint, I wish all four of us were in it because financially for our partners it’s better to have all four cars in the playoffs, but, at the same time, there’s a lot of pride whenever out of four cars only two of us made it and to be able to be there with Kevin is a huge deal.  I think come playoff time there is pros and cons to each now that there are two of us and we obviously have two teammates that can try different setups or if we’re in the middle of the race and maybe want to make an air-pressure adjustment that we’re not 100 percent set on, one of those two guys can now try it and kind of validate it for us and hopefully on the racetrack it’ll help just to know they’re gonna watch your back.  They’re gonna try to help as much as they can in the situations where it makes sense, so I think there are pros and cons.  Yeah, I would love for all four of us to be in it and be able to go battle, but having two of us in it and two of us out of it, there are some pros to the two guys that are in it – to be able to use those two guys to try setups and things like that.  Until I get into it and see how it all plays out with the two of us and two of us out it’s hard to say, but I feel like there are pros and cons to each.”

IS THERE MORE URGENCY TO START THE PLAYOFFS OFF STRONGER?  “Yeah, for sure.  Just getting off on the right foot.  If you go to Darlington and run 25th or whatever the number is or if you have an issue, you’re gonna pretty much be in a must-win at that point.  It’s just hard to be in a must-win situation and go out there and execute it, so, for sure, like I said, we’ve been in the playoffs for a really long time and have been able to think about going to Darlington, starting the playoffs on the right foot and you talk about it a long time and you think about it for a long time and then if you can actually go there and do it, there’s a certain confidence and just when you talk about doing something and then you go do it, it just helps team morale and all those things.  So, yeah, definitely it’s important to go there and get off on the right foot and just have a good, solid, clean day.  These last couple of weeks we’ve just had weird stuff happen.  At Richmond, we were gonna run top five fairly easily and maybe potentially try to win the race and just randomly our exhaust catches on fire.  So just weird things like that have happened and hopefully at Darlington we can avoid all that stuff and just have a good, clean day.”

 

DOES YOUR PREVIOUS XFINITY PLAYOFF EXPERIENCE HELP AS FAR AS KNOWING SOME OF YOUR COMPETITORS’ TENDENCIES?  “Yeah, I think so.  The more you race around guys you definitely kind of know their tendencies a little bit more.  I’ve raced a lot with Bell and Cindric and Reddick a lot more than I’ve raced against a Ryan Blaney, for example.  So, just knowing their tendencies I feel like helps and knowing what they do in certain situations and things like that, but all of these guys are so good that it doesn’t really matter.  They’re always switching it up and kind of keep you on your toes as far as a guessing game goes.  It’s nice to at least understand how a lot of those guys race and I feel like the more you’ve raced with guys the more respect you have with them and it just makes things easier, so I guess it is unique that a lot of us are in our first year in the playoffs or some of us the second year.  It’ll be interesting to see how the intensity ratchets up because of that.”

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