Chase Briscoe’s dirt racing past helped him to first Xfinity win

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
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CONCORD, N.C. — Chase Briscoe stood in the Charlotte Motor Speedway garage Saturday morning and was not generous in grading his Xfinity Series career.

“I would say it’s D- for me,” Briscoe told NBC Sports. “It’s been a disaster.”

The 23-year-old sprint car driver was roughly five hours away from making his 14th series start, a race magnified as NASCAR’s first event on the speedway’s 17-turn, 2.28-mile road course.

In his first 13 starts – 10 spent with Roush Fenway Racing and three with Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBest – the Ford development driver had three top 10s had failed to finish on the lead lap seven times. He had three DNFs in his last seven starts.

“Other than a (Camping World Truck Series) win at Eldora, a couple of sprint car wins, it’s been a rough year,” Briscoe said before the race. “It would be different if we were wrecking up front.”

Eight hours later, he pulled out his cell phone. There were 151 text messages awaiting NASCAR’s newest winner.

A native of Mitchell, Indiana – a town with two stoplights and nothing to do but visit Wal-Mart – Briscoe led 33 of 55 laps on the way to the win.

The Briscoe of Saturday morning would have been shocked to be told he’d win on a road course, let alone lead a lap.

“The road course stuff is probably the one (type of track where) no one has any idea what I’m talking about anytime I go to the pits,” Briscoe admitted.

Briscoe said after his win that his dirt racing roots helped him conquer the Roval, which nearly the entire field had not been on until Thursday. Many drivers noted the slickness of the infield portion of the track.

That’s where Briscoe’s dirt instincts kicked in.

“I felt like that was why I was better always at the end of the run,” Briscoe said. “Honestly, running Eldora this year helped quite a bit, just because it did relate on corner exit.”

Briscoe also credited Billy Johnson, the 2016 IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge GS champion.

Johnson was brought in for the Mid-Ohio race in August to advise Briscoe in his first Xfinity start on a road course.

“I feel like in the past on road courses I always came into them with the mentality of drive as hard as you possibly can, just drive it to the absolute max, slide around everywhere,” Briscoe said.

Johnson told him he was wrong.

“I started to do what Billy told me, just let it roll as much as possible and try not to abuse the front tires,” Briscoe said.

Without Johnson’s advice and racing Fords in IMSA, Briscoe is sure he would have been in “left field even more than I was at the beginning of the weekend.”

Managing his tires helped Briscoe fend off Daniel Hemric in the final stage until Hemric cut through the frontstretch chicane and served an on-track penalty that dropped him to 10th. Briscoe cruised to the checkered flag.

Briscoe is unsure what his future holds, but a Ford executive said they are working to get him a full-time ride.

The win didn’t boost Briscoe’s grade for himself dramatically.

“We’re up to about C- minus now,” Briscoe said. “We’re going to keep working.”

 

NASCAR Awards: Scene on the red carpet

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The NASCAR community gathered at the Music City Center to commemorate the 2022 season and celebrate Joey Logano‘s second Cup title.

The event can be seen at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock.

Here is a look at the scene on the red carpet before Thursday night’s NASCAR Awards:

Joey Logano and Brittany Logano (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Ryan Blaney and Gianna Tulio (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Kyle and Samantha Busch (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Chase Elliott (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Alex Bowman and Crystal Marsh (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Tyler Reddick and Alexa De Leon (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Denny Hamlin and Jordan Fish (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Daniel Suarez and Julia Piquet (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Chase Briscoe and Marissa Briscoe (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Christopher Bell and Morgan Bell (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Austin Dillon and Whitney Dillon (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Kyle Larson (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

William Byron and Erin Blaney (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Kevin Harvick (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Ross Chastain and Erika Turner (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Austin Cindric (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Kurt Busch (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Harrison Burton and Jenna Petty(Photo: Dustin Long)
Mario Andretti (Photo: Dustin Long)

Chase Elliott wins NMPA Most Popular Driver Award

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Chase Elliott won his fifth consecutive NMPA Most Popular Driver Award on Thursday.

The announcement was made during the NASCAR Awards at the Music City Center. The show will air at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock.

Elliott is one of only five drivers to win the award since 1984.

Bill Elliott won it from 1984-88, 1991-2000 and 2002. Dale Earnhardt won the award posthumously in 2001. Darrell Waltrip won it in 1989-90. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won it from 2003-17. Chase Elliott has won it every year since.

Noah Gragson was voted as the Most Popular Driver in the Xfinity Series. Hailie Deegan was voted as the Most Popular Driver in the Camping World Truck Series.

Kevin Harvick to make decision on future by Daytona in February

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Former Cup champion Kevin Harvick says he’ll know by Daytona in February his plans beyond 2023.

Harvick’s contract with Stewart-Haas Racing ends after the upcoming season. 

Harvick said Thursday before the NASCAR Awards that “it could go either way at this particular point” on what he’ll do, but he affirmed that “going into Daytona, I’ll know what I’m going to do.”

The Daytona 500 is scheduled for Feb. 19. Harvick anticipates making an announcement by then.

“We’re at a point where everybody needs to know what’s going on,” Harvick said. “There’s too many tentacles to everything that happens. Whether it’s the race team, driver management company, every element needs to know. It’s not fair to anybody to have to start the season not knowing.”

Harvick turns 47 on Dec. 8. Next season will be his 23rd in Cup. His debut came a week after Dale Earnhardt’s fatal crash in the 2001 Daytona 500. Harvick was selected by car owner Richard Childress to drive for Earnhardt’s team. 

Harvick has gone to win the 2014 Cup championship and 60 races at Richard Childress Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing. He’s tied with Kyle Busch for ninth on the all-time Cup wins list.

Harvick won two races last season. His victory last August at Michigan snapped a 65-race winless streak. He followed that by winning the next weekend at Richmond. 

Harvick has won at least two races in nine of the past 10 seasons. He has scored 41 of his 60 Cup wins since he turned 37 years old.

“Kevin, I think, is probably the No. 1 leader of the drivers, as he should be,” two-time Cup champion Joey Logano said Thursday. “He’s been around the longest. He’s very accomplished. He’s very smart. He’s been through the ups and downs. He’s lived it. There’s wisdom in experience. It’s great to hear his opinion on where we are as a sport.”

Harvick’s business interests include a management company that represents Cup drivers Ryan Preece, Harrison Burton and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., along with other athletes. Harvick also has worked as a broadcaster on NASCAR Xfinity races for Fox Sports, earning positive reviews. 

Harvick’s son Keelan, who is 10 years old, races and has competed in karting in Europe. 

“He’s got one more race in Italy … and then we’ll start all over again,” Harvick said of his son.

Harvick went overseas after the season finale at Phoenix to watch Keelan race.

“I think he’s definitely matured a little bit since he’s been making these trips,” Harvick said. “I think it’s important to have that culturing aspect of life to be comfortable to do things like that anywhere in the world.”

The NASCAR Awards program airs at 8 p.m. ET Saturday, Dec. 3 on Peacock. To sign up for Peacock, go here.

BJ McLeod, Live Fast team move to Chevrolet

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Driver/owner BJ McLeod and Live Fast Motorsports will race in Chevrolets beginning with the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season.

Based in Mooresville, North Carolina, Live Fast has been a Ford team.

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Live Fast is owned by McLeod, Matt Tifft and Joe Falk. Jessica McLeod, BJ’s wife, is the team’s chief operating officer.

“Our team is excited to make this transition to Chevrolet,” BJ McLeod said in a statement released by the team. “Chevrolet Camaros have proven great success on the track, and Live Fast Motorsports is looking forward to becoming a part of this advance.”

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The team will use ECR engines.

McLeod had one top-10 finish in 29 starts in the Cup Series last season.