Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will go to a backup car after hitting the outside wall hard during his first lap of practice Friday at ISM Raceway.
His No. 17 Ford was entering Turn 3 when it smacked the wall. The accident occurred with about 32 minutes left in the session.
Due to NASCAR rules, Stenhouse will start from the rear Sunday in the Ticket Guardian 500.
“I was really having issues with the brakes going down the front straightaway getting up to speed,” Stenhouse told Fox Sports 1. “I felt OK going into Turn 1 and then going into Turn 3 something in the left front just kept locking up. Hopefully we’ll go back and see what was wrong with it. Definitely not the way we wanted to start our weekend. We’ve had issues here in the past in practice and qualifying. We tend to race pretty well.”
Starting from the rear ends Stenhouse’s streak of starting every race this year in the top 10. He started ninth at Daytona, sixth at Atlanta and seventh at Las Vegas.
The Roush Fenway Racing driver finished in the top 10 in both Phoenix races last year.
The story of how Chase Briscoe made it to the Xfinity Series doesn’t begin in a one stoplight town in Southern Indiana.
“Actually, we just got a second stop light about two years ago,” Briscoe says.
The town, Mitchell, is 33 miles south of Bloomington in Lawrence County.
Before you ask, there isn’t much to do there.
“I remember in high school one of the fun things and cool things to do is just go walk around Wal-Mart,” Briscoe says.
Luckily for Briscoe, growing up in a county that produced three astronauts provided some benefit to the future Roush Fenway Racing driver.
Dirt racers. “A ton” of them.
One of those was his dad, Kevin Briscoe.
The son of a longtime sprint car owner, Richard Briscoe, Kevin continued in the family business, competing for more than 20 years and winning more than 150 feature events.
But for much of Chase’s childhood, Kevin didn’t want his son involved in racing.
At 7, he raced twice in a quarter midget, winning both a qualifying race and his feature. But that was almost the end for Chase.
“My dad was still racing so much, and we didn’t really have the money to be doing both,” Briscoe says. “He just never really had the desire for me to race. He just didn’t see the point of it. He didn’t think it was the safest thing. He didn’t think I could make a good livelihood doing it.”
His dad’s mind was changed one night at Bloomington Speedway when Chase was about 10.
While at the payout window, the mother of another driver asked Kevin when he was going to let his son race.
When he told her he didn’t want Chase to race, the woman launched into a story.
Her son had once written a school paper about what racing with his family on the weekends meant to him.
The teacher failed the paper. She didn’t think it was right for a kid to be racing.
The next week, the teacher’s son was arrested for drinking and driving underage.
“My dad, it kind of clicked with him,” Briscoe says. “He was always with his dad on the weekends not getting into trouble and was always at the shop working throughout the week and kept him out of a lot of trouble he thought. That was kind of his mentality to let me start racing, was to keep me out of trouble.”
Briscoe wasn’t immediately throwing dirt on the weekends. It wasn’t until 2006 at 11 that he returned to the track in a mini-sprint car.
When he was 13, he made the jump into his dad’s old 410 sprint car, which had an engine built in 1993 (the year before Briscoe was born).
In his first season, he amassed 37 starts but didn’t win until the last race of the year. By doing so, Briscoe broke Jeff Gordon’s record (14 years old) as the youngest person to win a 410 sprint car race.
Even now, Briscoe doesn’t see himself as an exceptional dirt racer.
“It’s something I’ve always been passionate about, but I’m not the best dirt racer by any means,” Briscoe says. “I’m not the best pavement racer by any means either. It was hard to kind of race against guys that were running 140 races a year experience-wise.”
DIRT TO PAVEMENT
When he graduated high school, Briscoe knew he was within a few years of an expiration date for anyone wanting to make it as a pavement racer.
“I knew I was in that age category where if you’re over 23 years old, you’re probably not going to get a chance if you’re just starting out,” Briscoe says. “I just figured, ‘What the heck? The worst they’re going to tell me is no.’ If it doesn’t work out in three or four years, I can always move back and race sprint cars and go get a full-time job or go to school or what not. I kind of just went for it, and I honestly expected it to never work out. But I figured it was something I could do, and if I was 60 years old sitting on a porch, I wouldn’t have any regret about it.”
The first step in that goal was being invited to the Michael Waltrip PEAK Antifreeze Stock Car Dream Challenge in July 2013 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Briscoe competed in the three-day event against eight other hopefuls for a chance to win a ride with Bill McAnally Racing. He made the final round before losing to Patrick Staropoli.
Both drivers made a handful of K&N Pro Series starts for Bill McAnally Racing, with Briscoe making three in the West Series. To date, Staropoli has made one Camping World Truck Series start, in 2016.
Within a year, Briscoe furthered his commitment to making it on pavement. He moved to North Carolina in January 2014 at the age of 19.
That’s where the Keselowski family came in.
In the 2017 video game, “NASCAR Heat 2,” the career mode begins with a video of Brad Keselowski talking to the player as if they’re an aspiring NASCAR driver.
Keselowski says he’ll make a few calls to see about getting you a ride with a Truck Series team.
You’re basically playing as Chase Briscoe.
Unlike the game, Briscoe got to race for Keselowski.
The call from the 2012 Cup champion came after Briscoe, driving for Cunningham Motorsports, captured the 2016 ARCA Racing Series championship. He earned six wins – including four in row – during the campaign.
But Briscoe’s history with the Keselowskis didn’t begin there.
It started when he made the move to North Carolina and began sleeping on couches and volunteering at race shops.
The first shop he lent his services to belonged to Keselowski’s father and brother, Bob and Brian.
“I’m sure they would say I didn’t help out much because I didn’t really know what I was doing,” says Briscoe, who served as a spotter for Brian when he raced while Bob served as crew chief.
Briscoe got to pay tribute to Bob Keselowski’s own Truck Series career last September when he drove one of his old paint schemes at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
After his tenure at the Keselowski shop, Briscoe wound up at Cunningham Motorsports, where he volunteered until he was awarded a test at Nashville Speedway. That test resulted in two ARCA races in 2015 and his championship campaign.
The plan was for Briscoe to compete in the Truck Series two years and move to the Xfinity Series.
Due to not being near his phone, Briscoe didn’t find out until about an hour before the announcement was made.
“I had like two or three missed calls from Brad and I was like, ‘This is weird,’ ” says Briscoe. “I called him and he pretty much just told me, ‘Hey, I wanted to let you know I went to the shop today and told everybody I’m actually shutting the team down. You’re going to run the rest of the year, and I’m going to keep you in the best stuff I can.'”
The news came with nine races left in the season. With BKR the only Ford-backed team in Trucks at the time, Briscoe’s NASCAR future was put in limbo.
“It was very eye-opening to be there in the first place … I never would have expected to even make it in the Xfinity Series,” Briscoe says. “To be able to drive for Jack Roush in your first start in the winningest number in Xfinity Series history (94 wins) is certainly very humbling. It was just such an honor.”
Briscoe will make 11 more starts in the N0. 60 this season, the next coming on April 7 at Texas Motor Speedway. But Briscoe will make at least one other Xfinity start.
He is scheduled to compete April 28 race at Talladega Superspeedway for Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste Racing.
The race is significant for a driver who grew up in the dirt racing hotbed of Indiana.
“Being a sprint car guy, my hero is Tony Stewart,” Briscoe said of the native of Columbus, Indiana. “For me just getting to drive one race at Stewart-Haas is a dream come true. Just awesome and so humbling to be able to say I’m going to drive for my hero.”
The 23 year old Briscoe — at the age he once saw as a make-or-break year for his racing dreams — has a buffet of options before him.
In addition to racing for his home-state hero, he’ll compete in seven IMSA races, three Trans-Am races and roughly 25 sprint car races this year.
There’s not much a 60-year-old Briscoe would regret about the moment.
Is a future Daytona 500 winner competing in a sim race today having yet to drive a real race car?
For as far-fetched as it might seem, it was only five years ago that William Byron — his skills honed online in iRacing events — started driving a Legends car.
Although many of his competitors began racing by the time they were 7 years old (Byron was 15), Byron already has an Xfinity championship and won rookie of the year in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, Camping World Truck and Xfinity Series in each of the past three seasons.
Now the 20-year-old drives the iconic No. 24 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. Some suggest Byron will win a Cup race this year as a rookie.
Byron’s rise leads to the question: Is he the exception or the start of a trend as simulation racing and eSports become more popular to a younger generation?
If Byron succeeds, the search will be on to find someone like him. While many children start racing in karting, Banderlos or quarter midgets, many can’t because their families do not have the means or expertise to compete.
Byron didn’t come from a racing family, so he raced on a computer instead of track as a child.
“iRacing was my chance to really see if I had any ability to drive a car,’’ Byron told NBC Sports. “I think from that standpoint it’s a great starter for understanding if you do have some ability and seeing if that can translate.’’
While he admits not everything transferred from the computer to a car, the hours spent racing online helped.
“The biggest thing was learning the restarts and learning being side by side, setting up passes – the technical things that you figure out in a race car, I could figure out on the sim and put that in the race car,’’ Byron said. “Driving on the track by myself, that was natural. But the race craft from iRacing was something that I think helped me get farther ahead quicker.”
In the search for the next great driver, at what point does it make sense for teams or manufacturers to create an iRacing league for specific age groups to see who might have potential similar to Byron and put them in a car to see if their skills carry over?
“That is something that is of interest and something we’ve spent some time on,’’ Jack Irving, director of team and support services for Toyota Racing Development, told NBC Sports. “It’s definitely non-traditional. I think that is evolving, the better the physics are, the better that iRacing becomes and even the home units.
“By no means do we discount iRacing. I think it’s as important as any other form of working out or going to the gym. Obviously, racing is racing, so being put against a bunch of kids on the track, competing against each other, tells you a lot and the ups and downs of it are real. You can’t reset a race track. If you go hit a wall, you’ve got to deal with the feelings of that after.
“The psychological aspect of racing, that’s one thing I think from William’s perspective is he was extremely special from the way his makeup was and how he approaches races and how he approaches competing. If William had a tough race, it was the same William the day after, he was going to build on it and get better.’’
Toyota Racing Development already has created a driver pipeline that has sent Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez to Cup rides at Joe Gibbs Racing and watched as Byron — he drove in the Truck series for Kyle Busch Motorsports — moved to Chevrolet. Toyota has Christopher Bell in the Xfinity Series, Todd Gilliland and Myatt Snider in the Truck Series and Hallie Deegan in the K&N Pro Series West, among others.
For every Jones, Bell or Gilliland, others could be missed because they didn’t have the opportunity to begin racing at an early age.
Before Toyota can do something like that, Irving notes his group needs to understand what to measure and what translates from computers to the track.
“Can we expand it and do more with what we have? Yes,’’ Irving said of its analytics study. “Just getting data has been relatively new to the sport over the last few years. So even kind of dissecting data and how you would traditionally go after athletes at every level, we’re just starting to get over that more and more and we’re continuing to get better at that in the last few years.
“Figuring out the metrics that you’re just rating real racers has been difficult. We’ve spent a fair amount of time the last two years doing that, three years doing that, and evaluating the people that are out there that are currently racing. I think, yes, to touch further backgrounds and to find in deeper regions, (online simulation games) is definitely a tool that can be what the future is.’’
2. Daytona Speedweeks Crash Report
Ninety-five vehicles were involved in accidents in Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck races at Daytona, based on race reports and replays.
That is tied for the second-highest total of vehicles involved in incidents during Daytona Speedweeks since 2013. Those in incidents range from cars destroyed to any that were slightly involved.
The 28 Cup cars involved in accidents in the Daytona 500 was down from last year when 35 cars were listed in incidents. But this year’s total was the second-highest for the Daytona 500 since 2012.
The 63 cars involved in incidents in the Daytona 500 the past two years rank as the highest two-year total in the last 10 Daytona 500s.
Here is how many Cup cars were involved in accidents in the Daytona 500 in recent years:
Swiderski joined Team Penske after working on Richard Childress Racing’s No. 3 car in the Xfinity Series last year.
Prior to that, he was the head of vehicle performance at RCR for three seasons after serving as race engineer for RCR teams in both the Xfinity Series and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
“Just the experience of making the final four last season and getting to race for the Truck Series championship at Homestead for BKR was truly special for me, but has made me determined to find a way to try and get in that position again,” said Cindric in a press release. “Now to have the opportunity to run for a driver’s championship this year in the Xfinity Series with both Team Penske and Roush Fenway Racing is a dream come true.
“I know there’s a lot left for me to learn. That being said, it puts the ball in my court because I have such an incredible and unique opportunity in front of me to be surrounded by the experience of two very successful organizations and that is all a driver can ask for. Much like last season, I feel like it may take a little time to adjust, but I’m eager to get started on that journey. I just can’t thank Roger Penske, Jack Roush and everyone with Ford Performance enough for this opportunity.”
Cindric made his Xfinity debut last year at Road America in the No. 22, where he started from the pole and finished 16th.
He has one Truck Series win in 29 starts, coming at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park last season.
CHARLOTTE – Trevor Bayne will be commuting to Roush Fenway Racing farther than he races for the team on most weeks in NASCAR’s premier series this season.
The Knoxville, Tennessee, native relocated his family last December from the Charlotte area to his hometown, which is more than 200 miles from Roush’s headquarters in Concord, North Carolina.
Bayne, though, plans to travel weekly to his team’s shop so he can meet with officials and crew members on Tuesday or Wednesday.
“They’ve been great with it,” Bayne said during the NASCAR on NBC podcast of Roush’s reaction to the move. “As long as I’m committed in getting my work done, they shouldn’t know a difference.
“A lot of drivers will (use video conferencing) or call into the meeting, and it’s like being there, but I actually want to be present as much as possible for the guys who aren’t in the meeting. The guys working in the shop or body shop that want to see you and know what’s going on to know that you’re committed.”
His Knoxville home is about a three and a half hour drive to Roush Fenway, but Bayne plans on mostly flying to work. He is working on a pilot’s license and can rent planes while compiling his required hours for certification.
“Last year I started flying a little bit, and it’s a really short flight to get there,” Bayne said. “A little treacherous over the mountains. You’ve got to pay attention, but I feel it’s good for my mental state to travel back and forth and spend time with the guys.”
With two children under 2, it also will be good for childcare. The parents of Bayne and his wife, Ashton, live in Knoxville. “I really think this is going to be great for my racing and for our personal health,” he said. “Having grandparents around for a night a week if Ashton and I want to go on a date night or if I’ve got an appearance somewhere. … I think it’s going to be a really good thing.”
Bayne finished 22nd in the points standings last season, his third full time in the Cup Series. The 2011 Daytona 500 winner had a career-best six top 10s.
“Last year, we had a lot of big changes on our team with structure and different people,” he said. “This year, it’s more about refining those changes and seeing where we missed the gaps.”