In a long year, a long road (without a long drive) ends in Phoenix for Chase Briscoe


After an “up and down year on and off the racetrack” – to put it mildly – Chase and Marissa Briscoe hope to end their 2020 NASCAR season with a memorable celebration after the Xfinity Series finale Saturday at Phoenix Raceway.

Getting Marissa from their North Carolina home to Arizona might be just as memorable, though.

“She does not want to fly at all,” Chase Briscoe told NBC Sports. “She even talked about driving. I told her there is no way in a million years I’m driving to Phoenix and coming back.

“So she’s going to try (flying). She’s going to try to stay up the whole day before leading up to it. And that way she’ll just be super tired on the way there and maybe sleep on the plane. So we’ll see how it goes. It’s going to be exciting to say the least of her freaking out for four and a half hours trying to get out there.”

It will mark the latest chapter in a year marked by some tribulations for the couple, who will celebrate their first wedding anniversary Nov. 30.

NASCAR Chase Marissa Briscoe
Chase Briscoe has won two of the first six races in the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images).

Chase Briscoe announced April 21 that they were expecting their first child Dec. 1. Nearly a month later, while the driver was in his motorhome at Darlington Raceway and watching via FaceTime, Marissa learned during a routine checkup that the daughter they were expecting was gone. Two days later, Chase Briscoe scored an emotional victory at Darlington Raceway.

The Briscoes learned Marissa was pregnant again Oct. 19 – the day that Chase learned he would be promoted to a Cup Series ride with Stewart-Haas Racing next season. But they received bad news again last week.

“The first miscarriage was really hard; we didn’t see it coming,” Chase Briscoe said. “Not that we were super far along, but we were way farther along than when it just happened this past week. To find out we lost another one, it’s tough trying to balance all that out.

“The hardest part is my wife and trying to be there for her while you’re trying to balance all the things off the track you’re trying to do for the team. The focus and preparation, it’s obviously hard to balance. We’ve been through a lot our first year of marriage, more than I thought we’d go through in 10 years. It’s definitely challenging and stressful and all those things, but as long as we’re able to get through it, it’s only going to make us stronger in the long run.”

Surpassing a preseason goal of eight, Briscoe has a series-high nine victories entering Saturday’s Championship 4 race that will pit him against Austin Cindric, Justin Allgaier and Justin Haley for the title.

If Marissa Briscoe is able to make the trip, she will be allowed to celebrate with her husband like they haven’t yet this year. The only victory she’s attended this year was Sept. 18 at Bristol Motor Speedway, where she wasn’t allowed to be in victory lane because of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) protocols.

Chase Briscoe said those restrictions will be relaxed postrace at Phoenix, where he is hoping to score his first NASCAR victory at the 1-mile track with Marissa by his side.

“Everything my wife and I went through this this year, it would be special to cap off the year with a championship for sure,” he said. “It’s nice to have on-track success to distract us from the stuff happening off the racetrack.

“The championship, if we’re able to win it, hopefully will be the same way. Definitely been a lot harder on her than me. But it’s been really hard on me seeing how hard it is on her. It’s tough all the way around. It’s something we’ve had to lean into our faith and trust the process and hopefully get through it.”

Charlotte Cup race postponed to Monday by weather


CONCORD, N.C. — All-day rain Sunday forced the postponement of the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Cup Series race to Monday.

The postponement means that Charlotte Motor Speedway is scheduled to host 900 miles of stock car racing Monday. A 300-mile Xfinity Series race, originally scheduled Saturday and first postponed to noon Monday, has been rescheduled for 11 a.m. ET Monday (FS1, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The Cup race is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. (Fox, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Sunday’s Cup race was scheduled to start at 6:21 p.m. ET, but light rain was still falling at that time in the speedway area near Charlotte. Rain intensified a few minutes later and, despite an evening forecast that showed slight improvement, officials decided at 6:30 p.m. to postpone the race.

Monday’s forecast calls for a 34% chance of rain at the start of the Xfinity race and a 30% chance at the start of the Cup race.

William Byron will start the race from the pole after qualifying was washed out Saturday night.

RFK Racing gains sponsorship from submarine recruiting group


CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR racing and submarines? Yes.

RFK Racing announced Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway that it has entered a partnership with BlueForge Alliance, which is involved in securing workers for the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Industrial Base (SIB) program. will be a primary sponsor for RFK drivers Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher in 10 Cup Series races this year and in 18 races per season beginning in 2024.

The sponsorship will showcase the careers related to the submarine-building program across the nation.

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“I’m proud to support a cause of such vital significance to our country with this new partnership,” Keselowski said. “The synergies between a NASCAR team and our military’s needs to stay on track fast are countless. We hope to inspire the workforce of the next generation across the country when they see RFK race and hear our message.”

The sponsorship will support the mission to recruit, hire, train, develop and retain the SIB workforce that will build the Navy’s next generation of submarines, the team said.

“We are excited and grateful to be teaming with RFK Racing to drive awareness of the thousands of steady, well-paying manufacturing jobs available across the nation. Innovation, working with purpose and service to others are hallmarks of both of our organizations,” said Kiley Wren, BlueForge chief executive. “Together, we aim to inspire NASCAR fans and all Americans to pursue career opportunities that will support our national defense.”

Kyle Larson visits Indianapolis Motor Speedway to survey the scene


Former NASCAR champion Kyle Larson, who is scheduled to run the Indianapolis 500 in 2024 as part of an Indy-Charlotte “double,” visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway garage area Sunday on Indianapolis 500 race day.

Larson said he wanted to familiarize himself with the Indy race-day landscape before he becomes immersed in the process next year.

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Larson later returned to Charlotte, where was scheduled to drive in the Coca-Cola 600 Sunday night. Next year, he’s scheduled to run both races.

“I love racing,” Larson told NBC Sports. “I love competing in the biggest races. In my opinion, this is the biggest race in the world. I wanted to be a part of it for a long time, and I finally feel like the timing is right. It’s pretty cool to have a dream come true.

“I wanted to come here and kind of experience it again and get to experience how crazy it is again before I’m in the middle of it next year. I kind of want as little surprise as possible next year.”

In the 2024 500, Larson will be one of four drivers with the Arrow McLaren team.

Earlier this month, Larson and Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman Jeff Gordon attended an Indy 500 practice day.

Larson said Sunday he hasn’t tested an Indy car.

“I don’t know exactly when I’ll get in the car,” he said. “I’ve had no sim (simulator) time yet. I’ve kind of stayed back. I didn’t want to ask too many questions and take any focus on what they have going on for these couple of weeks. I’m sure that will pick up after today.

“I look forward to the challenge. No matter how this experience goes, I’m going to come out of it a better race car driver.”




Jimmie Johnson: Building a team and pointing toward Le Mans


CONCORD, N.C. — These are busy days in the life of former NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson is a co-owner of Legacy Motor Club, the Cup Series team that has struggled through a difficult first half of the season while it also is preparing for a switch from Chevrolet to Toyota next year.

Johnson is driving a very limited schedule for Legacy as he seeks to not only satisfy his passion for racing but also to gain knowledge as he tries to lift Legacy to another level. As part of that endeavor, he’ll race in the Coca-Cola 600 in Legacy’s No. 84 car, making his third appearance of the season.

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And, perhaps the biggest immediate to-do item on Johnson’s list: He’ll race June 10-11 in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s biggest endurance race and another of the bucket list races the 47-year-old Johnson will check off his list.

“I’m excited, invigorated, exhausted — all of it,” Johnson said. “It has been a really exciting adventure that I’ve embarked on here — to learn from (Legacy co-owner) Maury Gallagher, to be a part of this great team and learn from everyone that I’m surrounded by. I’m in a whole new element here and it’s very exciting to be in a new element.

“At the same time, there are some foundational pieces coming together, decisions that we’re making, that will really help the team grow in the future. And then we have our job at hand – the situation and environment that we have at hand to deal with in the 2023 season. Depends on the hat that I’m wearing, in some respects. There’s been a lot of work, but a lot of excitement and a lot of fun. I truly feel like I’m a part of something that’s really going to be a force in the future of NASCAR.”

Johnson is scheduled to fly to Paris Monday or Tuesday to continue preparations for the Le Mans race. He, Jenson Button and Mike Rockenfeller will be driving a Hendrick Motorsports-prepared Chevrolet as part of Le Mans’ Garage 56 program, which is designed to offer a Le Mans starting spot for a team testing new technologies.

“For me, it’s really been about identifying marquee races around the world and trying to figure out how to run in them,” Johnson said. “Le Mans is a great example of that. Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600 — these are the marquee events.”

He said his biggest concerns approaching the 24-hour race are being overtaken by faster prototypes in corners and racing at night  while dealing with the very bright lights of cars approaching in his rear view mirrors.

At Legacy, Johnson has work to do. Erik Jones has a top finish of sixth (and one other top 10) this season, and Noah Gragson is still looking for his first top-10 run. He has a best finish of 12th – at Atlanta.

“I think Erik (Jones) continues to show me just how good he is,” Johnson said. “He’s been in some challenging circumstances this year and keeps his head on — focuses, executes and gets the job done. I’ve really been impressed with his ability to stay calm and execute and just how good he is.

“With Noah, from watching him before, I wasn’t sure how serious he took his job in the sport. I knew that he was fast, and I knew that he liked to have fun. I can say in the short time that I’ve really worked with him closely, he still has those two elements, but his desire to be as good as he can in this sport has really impressed me. So I guess ultimately, his commitment to his craft is what’s impressed me the most.”