Chase Briscoe dreamed of being a NASCAR driver but didn’t always believe it would happen.
“I never in a million years thought I would even run a single Truck (Series) race,” Briscoe said.
Wheeling his idol Tony Stewart’s famed No. 14 Ford, Briscoe fended off a fierce charge from Ross Chastain and Tyler Reddick on the final restart to earn his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory in Sunday’s race at Phoenix Raceway.
MORE: Phoenix results, points
MORE: What Drivers Said
Briscoe, the second-year driver for Stewart-Haas Racing, controlled the restart with three laps to go following a spin by Chase Elliott at lap 305. With Chastain and Reddick in hot pursuit at the green flag, Briscoe blocked low exiting the dogleg, covering any move to his from behind.
Chastain, Reddick and Ryan Blaney battled three-wide for second, but Briscoe was clear by the exit of Turn 2 and powered away for the win. Briscoe becomes the 200th different race winner in the NASCAR Cup Series.
“That’s unbelievable,” Briscoe told FOX Sports. “I was crying the whole last lap. I mean this is definitely a team win, but I have to thank everybody that’s gotten me to this point. Seven years ago, I was sleeping on couches, volunteering at race shops and was literally driving home to give up. (Late ARCA team owner) Briggs Cunningham, Kerry Scherer and Beth Cunningham, they gave me an opportunity and it’s led to this.
“I am so blessed to be driving at the organization, the team, the car that was my hero growing up. To get this 14 back in Victory Lane, to do it with Mahindra Tractors, their first year in the sport, everybody that’s believed in me. It’s unbelievable.”
The win only added to a great Sunday for Briscoe’s car owner. Tony Stewart also earned his first victory as an NHRA team owner with driver Matt Hagan at the Gatornationals in Gainsville. Florida.
Briscoe, who led 101 laps Sunday, was challenged on multiple late restarts. After a restart at lap 293 of 312, Briscoe escaped with the lead but not after daring racing with Reddick. The two fought side-by-side for a couple laps before Reddick slid back.
As the laps wound down, Reddick appeared to be reeling in Briscoe. But Elliott’s spin negated the charge.
Blaney appeared to have the strongest car in the race through much of the event, leading a race-high 143 laps. But troubles on pit road cost the No. 12 team. After winning the second stage, Blaney backslid to fourth on pit road but worked his way back to third. The next round of stops cost Blaney another six spots after the right-rear tire changer had difficulty with the lug nut.
Rounding out the top five behind Briscoe were Chastain, Reddick, Blaney and Kurt Busch. Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Daniel Suarez and Chris Buescher completed the top 10.
Harvick’s sixth-place finish was his 18th straight top-10 finish at Phoenix, tying seven-time Cup champions Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty for the most consecutive top 10s at one track, both achieving so at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
Entering Turn 3 on the final lap, Daniel Suarez blocked an inside run by Kyle Busch. Contact between the two sent Suarez up and into Austin Dillon, who backed into the outside retaining wall.
Stage 1 winner: William Byron
Stage 2 winner: Ryan Blaney
Who had a good race: Ross Chastain scored his second straight top-five finish, following up last week’s third-place effort at Las Vegas with a runner-up finish in Phoenix. … Tyler Reddick had an issue-free weekend after a West Coast Swing full of fast cars and underwhelming results. His third-place finish is his first top five of the year after leading 90 laps at Auto Club two weeks ago. … Kurt Busch took advantage of those late-race restarts to climb to a fifth-place finish, his first top five with 23XI Racing. He’s now scored top-20 finishes in each of the season’s first four races.
Who had a bad race: Phoenix Raceway’s 2021 winners had miserable days Sunday and didn’t even see the checkered flag. Martin Truex Jr., last spring’s winner, crashed at the exit of Turn 2 Sunday and destroyed the right front of his race car at lap 219, plummeting him to a 35th-place finish and first DNF of the year. … Twenty laps later, defending champion Kyle Larson broke a valve spring and ended his day with his second DNF in four races.
Noteable: Ryan Blaney’s 143 laps led mark the 13th time he has led at least 64 laps and not gone on to win. … Aric Almirola‘s top-10 streak ends at five dating back to last season. The No. 10 Ford finished 12th Sunday. … None of Hendrick Motorsports’ four cars finished inside the top 10, marking the first time that’s happened since Talladega in October 2021.
Next race: The series will compete March 20 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on FOX).