Chase Briscoe‘s first Cup Series campaign has been a struggle at times, reflecting the down year that Stewart-Haas Racing is enduring.
But the rookie may have an advantage entering Sunday’s inaugural Cup race at the 1.33-mile Nashville Superspeedway (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
Briscoe was one of three drivers who took part in Goodyear’s tire tests at Nashville on March 23 and April 20. The others were Kurt Busch and Christopher Bell.
They and the other Cup drivers will have a 50-minute practice Saturday ahead of Sunday’s race. But thanks to the tire tests, Briscoe and his team have, at least, an idea of what to expect.
“I already know what my limit as far as how far I can drive into a corner and just things like that,” Briscoe said Tuesday in a media teleconference. “I’ve already done 30-40 lap runs, short runs, so I know where the car builds and what direction it’s gonna go.
“Obviously, that could be different with the different amount of cars and the temperature … But I at least feel like I know what I need my car to feel like to go and have some speed. We were able to try some things in the tire test and some changes didn’t work as good as others from just the speed standpoint, so just knowing those.
“Other guys, it’s probably gonna take them a run or two to get adjusted and learn the racetrack, where I feel like, right off the truck, I’m gonna at least know where I need to be. So, I think just having that advantage will be good, especially on a short practice weekend.”
Briscoe, Busch and Bell’s work helped lead Goodyear to its tire setup for this weekend.
The left-side tire has been used at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway since 2020. The right-side tire has been used at Dover International Speedway – a concrete track like Nashville – since 2020.
Goodyear reports that the Dover right-side tire’s tread compound is designed to lay down rubber on concrete and increase the opportunity for better racing.
Before Goodyear’s second tire test at NSS, a resin was put down on the track to help the surface take more rubber after early cording was observed in the first test.
Briscoe said Tuesday that with many more cars on track, rubber shouldn’t be a problem. He also believed passing will be a challenge, but with handling poised to be an issue, good cars should move to the front.
The entire SHR stable hopes their cars are among them, and that with the All-Star break over, the second half of the season will be much better than the first.
Through 16 races, Kevin Harvick remains the lone SHR driver in playoff contention at 13th position. Briscoe, Cole Custer and Aric Almirola are far from the cutoff; they’re 26th, 27th and 28th in the playoff standings, respectively.
As far as what it will take for SHR to find its form again, Briscoe noted he and the other drivers are “all just in four different places.”
“I’m the rookie trying to figure it out,” he said. “Cole is kind of somewhere in the middle. Aric was really good last year and kind of struggling this year, and obviously, Kevin is not where he wants to be and where he’s used to being.”
But Briscoe remains confident that the ship will be righted at some point.
“We wouldn’t be having two-hour (competition) meetings and things like that if we weren’t trying to make it better,” he said. “I’m positive we’re gonna get it better. It’s just a matter of time, especially right now – it’s a tough predicament because how much time and effort do you want to put into the current car, when next year, it’s kind of irrelevant?
“It’s a spot I would not envy to be the guys making the decisions, but I know that we’re trying everything we can to make the stuff better this year and it’s just gonna take time to figure it out, especially when we don’t have practice like we don’t right now.”