Long: Chase Briscoe celebrates, mourns in victory

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In separate states, they were connected by technology and love.

Two days before he scored one of NASCAR’s most emotional victories in recent memory, Chase Briscoe sat alone in his motorhome Tuesday at a rainy Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. He watched via FaceTime as wife Marissa, 12 weeks pregnant, underwent a routine checkup at a doctor’s office in North Carolina.

The baby girl would be the couple’s first child. She was due to arrive Dec. 1, a day after Chase and Marissa’s first anniversary.

Briscoe wrote on social media that he was “wishing so desperately that I could be by (Marissa’s) side to hear the heartbeat for the first time.”

As Briscoe watched his wife undergo an ultra sound, he heard the doctor say: “Now for the heartbeat.”

Silence.

Briscoe then heard the doctor again.

“I’m so sorry.”

Briscoe could only comfort his wife through the phone. He couldn’t embrace her.

They were together. And alone at the same time.

When she walked in our house and my parents were there to give her a hug, that’s when I finally kind of broke down just because I knew somebody was finally there for her,” Briscoe said.

Two hours after the race was to have begun, it was postponed, allowing Briscoe to return home to be with his wife.

As they comforted each other Wednesday, Briscoe told his wife: “I’m going to win this thing for you,” referring to Thursday’s Xfinity race at Darlington.

“We both kind of laughed about it, not really believing it, but I told her this could be a huge thing for us. We just experienced the lowest of lows and this could really be a high that we need right now, so I was just feeling that pressure of trying to put it together.”

That day, Briscoe revealed the news on social media.

Many people reached out to them, including Samantha Busch, wife of Kyle Busch. Samantha and Kyle endured infertility issues before having son Brexton, who celebrated his fifth birthday Monday. Samantha Busch has suffered miscarriages since.

“It was really good for my wife, Marissa, to be able to talk with Samantha,” Briscoe said. “I haven’t talked to Kyle, but for Samantha to reach out, she didn’t have to do that by any means, so for her to do that and seek out Marissa’s number — Marissa doesn’t really talk to anybody in the racing world — so for her to be able to find her number definitely meant a lot and we want to thank the Busch family for that.”

When Briscoe returned to the track Thursday, rain again was a companion, delaying the start more than four hours, keeping him away from his wife even longer.

When it was time to race — the first time the Xfinity Series had competed since March 7 at Phoenix — Briscoe admits “it was like I was in a whole other world. It was just weird.”

His focus returned as his car’s handling went away. He worked his way into the lead shortly past the start of the final stage.

As he led, he saw raindrops.

“What if this thing rains out and I’m in the lead?’ Briscoe said he thought to himself. “I knew Marissa was home watching and both of our families were at home, and just feeling that weight on my shoulders of if this happens it’s gonna be a big thing for our family.”

The rain dissipated. The race continued.

As Briscoe led in the final laps, Kyle Busch lurked, his car moving closer to the front and headed toward what seemed an inevitable victory.

Briscoe tagged the wall off Turn 4, giving Busch an opening to lead at the start/finish line to begin the final lap.

Briscoe rallied, squeezing between Busch’s car and the wall in Turn 1. Busch, the all-time wins leader in the Xfinity Series, got beside Briscoe in Turn 4 but Briscoe was in the preferred lane coming to the finish.

“Clear … Clear … Clear,” spotter Tim Fedewa radioed Briscoe. “Hell yeah!”

Briscoe beat Busch by 86-thousandths of a second.

Briscoe keyed the radio to celebrate but only sobs were heard.

Crew chief Richard Boswell filled the gap.

“You’re a hell of a man, buddy,” Boswell said. “You’re a hell of a man. That one is for you. That one is for your wife. And that one is for your baby.”

As he returned to his motorhome in the infield, Briscoe FaceTimed his wife.

“She’s still in not the best mood because of what happened, but it definitely raised her spirits up a little bit,” he said. “But it’s not by any means swept under the rug. This is still really serious for us, and we’re struggling right now.”

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Results, point standings after Truck race at Las Vegas

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Austin Hill won Friday night’s Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for his second win of 2020.

He beat Sheldon Creed for the victory.

The top five was completed by Tanner Gray, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith.

IndyCar driver Conor Daly finished 18th and Travis Pastrana was 21st.

Click here for the race results.

Point Standings

With his win, Austin Hill is the first driver to advance to the second round of the playoffs.

Todd Gilliland is last in the playoff standings with 2,050 points. He is 13 points behind Ben Rhodes.

Click here for the standings.

Austin Hill wins Las Vegas Truck race

Austin Hill
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Austin Hill won Friday night’s Truck Series playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, leading the final 39 laps to score the victory.

Hill took the lead on a restart and held off charges from Sheldon Creed over the final 20 laps.

Creed’s progress was slowed with 11 laps to go when he got loose and scraped the wall in Turn 1. He was never able to get close enough to Hill to make a challenge.

Creed dominated the early portion of the race, leading 89 laps before he struggled to get going on the final restart and briefly fell to seventh.

The win is the second of the year for Hill. He’s the first playoff driver to win in the postseason and it come after he finished 25th at Bristol.

“We didn’t have the best truck tonight by no means,” Hill told FS1. “Pit crew did a hell of job on that last pit stop getting me into the position I needed to. I just had to go out there and get it. … Sheldon was definitely way faster than me. … I was probably looking in my mirror more than I was our front. I knew he was better than we were.”

The top five was completed by Tanner Gray, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith.

More: Race results and point standings

STAGE 1 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

STAGE 2 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Tanner Gray, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith all matched their best results of the season … While he was the first driver to finish one lap down, IndyCar driver Conor Daly placed 18th in his first career Truck Series start … Travis Pastrana placed 21st in his second start of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Rachael Lessard finished 20th after he had to pit early in the race following contact with the wall … Ben Rhodes finished 23rd after he spun from contact with Stewart Friesen and hit the inside wall on Lap 84 … Jordan Anderson’s engine expired on the ensuing restart. He finished 32nd.

NOTABLE: Natalie Decker, who was not medically cleared to compete Friday night, was treated and released from the infield care center.

WHAT’S NEXT: Race at Talladega Superspeedway, 1 p.m. ET Oct. 3 on FS1

 

Natalie Decker not medically cleared for Las Vegas Truck race

Natalie Decker
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NASCAR announced right before Friday night’s Truck Series race that Natalie Decker hadn’t been medically cleared to compete.

No details were provided about the issue that prevented Decker from being cleared. During the final stage of the race, NASCAR announced she had been treated and released from the infield medical center.

The Niece Motorsports driver would have started 23rd. Due to her No. 44 truck having cleared inspection and having been placed on the starting grid she was credited with a last-place finish.

Decker has made 11 starts this year. She missed the June 28 race at Pocono after she was hospitalized due to bile duct complications related to her gallbladder removal in December.

Brandon Brown hopes to shed underdog role in Xfinity playoffs

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Brandon Brown knows the odds are against him advancing beyond the first round of the Xfinity playoffs.

“If I went out and we did a survey and we asked 1,000 NASCAR fans to create a playoff bracket, I guarantee that 90 to 99 percent of them have me getting eliminated in the first round,” he told NBC Sports.

But that’s not stopping him.

Brown is in the Xfinity playoffs for the first time, earning the final spot last weekend with his family-run team. He enters Saturday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) last in the 12-driver field. Brown has 2,000 points and is 10 points behind Ross Chastain, who holds the final transfer spot, entering the first round.

MORE: Saturday’s Xfinity race start time, lineup, forecast

Regardless where he is in the standings, Brown still met the team’s preseason goal of making the playoffs.

“It’s hard to put it into words,” the 27-year-old said of making the playoffs. “It’s so exciting and so thrilling. We’re just happy. Life is good. We’re seeing the fruits of our labor.”

Much of the Xfinity playoff focus will be on Chase Briscoe, who enters with a series-high seven wins. Or Austin Cindric, who won the regular-season title. Or Justin Allgaier, who has won three of the last seven races and could be the favorite if he makes it to the championship race at Phoenix Raceway.

Brown, who is in his second full season in the series, has four consecutive top-20 finishes going into this weekend. He knows the challenge he faces.

He said a key for this weekend is to have no mistakes, be running at the end and try to take advantage of any mistakes other playoff drivers have.

Then, he’ll look to Talladega. He’ll have an upgraded Earnhardt Childress Racing engine for that race, the team spending the extra money for the engine upgrade.

“I go into that track with confidence,” he said. “I need to go out there and make it happen, go win and make an name and go ahead and punch my ticket.”

While Brown knows most look at him as the underdog of these playoffs, he hopes to drop that title someday.

“The goal will be to get rid of that underdog title and to build that program that is going to be looked on as a powerhouse of the NASCAR Xfinity Series,” he said. “I enjoy the ride (as underdog), but now I’m ready to advance past it.”

Points entering Xfinity playoffs 

2,050 – Chase Briscoe

2,050 – Austin Cindric

2,033 – Justin Allgaier

2,025 – Noah Gragson

2,020 – Brandon Jones

2,018 – Justin Haley

2,014 – Harrison Burton

2,010 – Ross Chastain

2,002 – Ryan Sieg

2,002 – Michael Annett

2,001 – Riley Herbst

2,000 – Brandon Brown

First Round races

Sept. 26 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Oct. 3 – Talladega Superspeedway (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Oct. 10 – Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC)