How Parker Chase shifted from sports cars to NASCAR

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Forty-five minutes southwest of Circuit of the Americas, Parker Chase grew up watching racing from home in New Braunfels, Texas.

Whether it was NASCAR on his television or passing Hill Country Kart Club Raceway, the go-kart track 10 minutes from his house, Chase was mesmerized by the sense of speed.

In 2011, at age 10, Chase finally asked his parents if he could race at Hill Country and was swiftly met with a no. Shortly thereafter, Chase’s dad went to the NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway, which only frustrated Chase more.

“That (ticked) me off and I told him, ‘Well, this is what we’re doing when you get back,'” Chase said in an interview with NBC Sports.

So began his motorsports career, with a journey filled with go-karts and sports cars that included a stint as Kyle Busch‘s teammate in the 2020 edition of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

These days, Chase is pursuing the stock car route. And on Saturday, just short of 10 years after attending COTA’s debut for the Formula One United States Grand Prix in 2012, Chase will make his inaugural NASCAR Xfinity Series start at his home track, driving the No. 26 Toyota for Sam Hunt Racing.

“To make my Xfinity debut there is special …” Chase said. “Having everybody that supported me for the last 11 years that I’ve been racing to watch me make my Xfinity debut is special.”

While Friday’s practice session will mark his first laps in an Xfinity car, Chase has plenty of laps around Circuit of the Americas in other vehicles.

His stint in go-karts progressed into road racing, sending Chase into sports cars at a young age. His first laps at COTA came in 2016 during a test session. And at 15 years old, Chase was there to drive a Porsche for the Pirelli World Challenge Balance of Performance test “just to get some track time.

“I ended up hopping in a different car and went out and went pretty quick, and so my whole year’s plans changed,” Chase said. “We went and did a full season of Pirelli World Challenge in GT4 (with Performance Motorsport Group). And I think my first race there was about a month later, and we ended up third on the podium and fifth in another race.”

That season propelled Chase into the sports car world on a regular basis, notching multiple podiums across two seasons with PMG and making his 2017 debut in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship at COTA. The following year, Chase competed in two separate Pirelli World Challenge series, winning a combined six races and one championship.

Pirelli World Challenge
Parker Chase (L) and Ryan Dalziel after the Pirelli World Challenge race at Portland International Raceway on July 15, 2018. (Photo by Brian Cleary/Getty Images)

He made his first start in the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2019, competing for Starworks Motorsport as one of six races with the team. But it was his race at Road Atlanta in October that changed Chase’s eventual path.

Chase ran that event for AIM Vasser Sullivan Racing, and three-and-a-half months later, he was back with the team for the 2020 24 Hours of Daytona. Chase was driving the team’s No. 14 Lexus as a teammate to Jack Hawksworth, Michael De Quesada and some guy named Kyle Busch, who entered fresh off his second NASCAR Cup Series championship. The group finished ninth in the GTD class in Daytona.

Chase grew up watching NASCAR, but nothing prepared him for the heaps of attention Busch’s presence brought.

“It was cool just to see the amount of people that wanted to talk to Kyle Busch,” Chase said. “Everywhere you go, there’s always a swarm of people following him. And even the autograph session that we did, I think the line for our table was probably four times longer than anybody else’s. And there’s plenty of people there that have won Le Mans multiple times and everything you can imagine. But the Kyle Busch table was the longest.”

The outings with Lexus partnered the Texas native with Toyota Racing. With Chase recognizing the opportunities at his disposal, he made the decision to shift toward stock-car racing, leading him to race late models in 2020.

“As I got older, I realized that I felt that there was more opportunity in NASCAR to make a living,” Chase said. “Because if you ask anybody that’s not in motorsports, they say, ‘oh yeah, racecars.’ And when you’re racing in sports cars, they say, ‘oh, like NASCAR!’ So I think NASCAR in the United States is obviously the superior form of motorsport. So I just felt that you know, if I went that route, I have a strong opportunity of making it a full-time career.”

The wheels are in motion to help that goal become a reality. Chase made four ARCA starts for Venturini Motorsports in 2021 with a best finish of fourth at Charlotte and will make 10 starts this season. Already, he earned a runner-up finish at Daytona in the series’ opening race.

The Toyota connection also came full circle as Chase made two Truck Series starts for Kyle Busch Motorsports, partnering with his former IMSA teammate for the Daytona road course (23rd) and COTA (18th) last year.

Ahead of his Xfinity debut with Sam Hunt Racing, which led its first laps two weeks ago with John Hunter Nemechek behind the wheel at Phoenix, Chase expects to be competitive on Saturday afternoon.

“I think I want to at least finish in the top 10,” Chase said. “I think it’s gonna be quite hectic, so if we can stay out of trouble and not getting any serious contact or break anything and just keep it clean, we have an easy chance to finish on the top 10 I think. That’s my bare minimum goal, but obviously want to go out there and win as everybody does.”

Chase is taking each opportunity one race at a time. He remains hopeful for a full-time opportunity in any national stock car series for 2023.

“That’s obviously the goal,” he said. “I want to be able to go out and contend for a championship in whichever series it may be. So at the minimum, I want to be able to do that. And then maybe, say if we’re doing a full season of ARCA, I want to mix in some trucks or Xfinity stuff just to keep learning as much as I can.”

At COTA, Chase will have plenty of hometown support, including primary sponsor, Bahnbrëcker, a craft whiskey brewed in his hometown of New Braunfels.

“I’m gonna have, I don’t know, 100 people there at least, just friends and family and everybody there that wants to come see it,” Chase said. “That’s cool just to have be able to have everybody that I’m close to there at the track.”

Helio Castroneves rules out Daytona 500

Helio Castroneves Daytona 500
Robert Scheer/Indy Star/USA TODAY NETWORK
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Helio Castroneves might be at the 2023 Daytona 500, but the four-time Indy 500 winner won’t be in a race car.

During a news conference Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, Castroneves confirmed in response to a question from NBC Sports that he essentially has ruled out attempting to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut in the Feb. 19 season opener.

As recently as last Thursday at Rolex 24 Media Day, Castroneves, 47, said he still was working on trying to piece together a deal.

The Brazilian had been negotiating with the Cup team co-owned by boxer Floyd Mayweather and would have been in an “open” entry that lacked guaranteed entry to the Great American Race. That potentially would leave him in the precarious position of needing to make the race on qualifying speed or a qualifying race finish (as action sports star Travis Pastrana likely might need in his Cup debut).

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“Unfortunately for me, lack of experience, no testing,” Castroneves said. “A lot of things. I believe it would be a little bit tough throwing myself in such a short notice, and to go in a place that you’ve got to race yourself into it. So as of right now, yes, it’s not going to happen.

“But we did have an opportunity. We just got to elaborate a little bit more to give me a little more experience on that. So there is more things to come ahead of us, but as of right now, I want to focus on the IndyCar program as well and (the Rolex 24 at Daytona).”

Castroneves, who has a residence in Key Biscayne, said he still might attend the Daytona 500

“I might just come and see and watch it and continue to take a look and see what’s going to be in the future,” he said.

Castroneves enters Saturday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona having won the event the past two years. He made his signature fence-climb after winning last year with Meyer Shank Racing, which he will be driving for full time in the NTT IndyCar Series this year. He became the fourth four-time Indy 500 winner in history in his 2021 debut with Meyer Shank Racing.

The 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar champion also has indicated an interest in Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 car that aims to place international drivers in a Cup ride (such as Kimi Raikkonen at Watkins Glen International last year). Team co-owner Justin Marks recently tweeted Trackhouse wouldn’t field the Project 91 car at the Daytona 500.

After winning the 2022 Superstar Racing Experience opener, SRX CEO Don Hawk had promised he would help secure a Daytona 500 ride for Castroneves.

Castroneves has been angling for a NASCAR ride for years, dating to when he drove for Team Penske from 2000-20. After winning the Rolex 24 last year, he said he had been lobbying Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart for help with getting in a Cup car.

Fire at Reaume Brothers Racing shop injures three

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A Thursday fire at the Reaume Brothers Racing shop in Mooresville, North Carolina, injured three individuals, according to Mooresville (North Carolina) Fire-Rescue.

Firefighters were dispatched to the shop, which is scheduled to field entries for driver Mason Massey in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this season, at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

The fire department extinguished the blaze quickly. The department stated on its Facebook page that one individual was transported to Lake Norman Regional hospital for smoke inhalation, and another was transported to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C. with burn injuries. A third was treated and released.

The Mooresville Fire Marshall’s office is investigating the cause of the fire. The fire department said the shop sustained “significant fire damage.”

In a tweet, the team said it is determining the extent of damage to the building. “More importantly,” it said, “a few of our team members did sustain injuries during the fire and are being transported for medical treatment.”

Trackhouse, RFK Racing, Front Row Motorsports sign sponsorship deals

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Trackhouse Racing, RFK Racing and Front Row Motorsports announced sponsorship deals Thursday morning.

Trackhouse said WWEX, a Dallas-based global logistics group, will increase its sponsorship presence with the team this year, serving as the primary sponsor in 21 races for drivers Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez.

WWEX will appear on Chastain’s Chevrolets in 19 races and will sponsor Suarez twice. The organization was a Trackhouse sponsor in 11 events in 2022, which was a breakout season for both Chastain and Suarez.

RFK announced that Solomon Plumbing, which joined the team last season, will expand its presence this season and in future years. The Michigan-based company will serve as the primary sponsor for several races on driver Brad Keselowski‘s No. 6 Ford.

MORE: Chase Briscoe signs contract extension with Stewart-Haas

Solomon specializes in plumbing and fire services for new development and construction. It initially sponsored Keselowski last season in the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Front Row Motorsports has signed Quincy Compressor, a Bay Minette, Ala.-based compressor manufacturer, as a sponsor for four races.

Quincy will sponsor Todd Gilliland‘s No. 38 team in three events and Michael McDowell‘s No. 34 team in one race.

 

 

Stewart-Haas Racing signs Chase Briscoe to contract extension

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Chase Briscoe has signed a multiyear contract extension to remain at Stewart-Haas Racing, the team announced Thursday.

The length of the deal was not announced.

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Briscoe is entering his third Cup season with the team. He won his first series race last year, taking the checkered flag at Phoenix last March. That victory put him in the playoffs. He finished the season ninth in the standings. 

“It’s huge to have stability, with my team and my partner,” Briscoe said in a statement from the team. “It just gives you more confidence. Stewart-Haas Racing is where I want to be for a long time. It’s the place I’ve known longer than anywhere else in my NASCAR career.

“I remember getting signed by Ford in 2017 and I told people, ‘You know, if I could pick one place to be, it would be Stewart- Haas Racing. And if I could drive one car, it would be the 14 car. That would be the ultimate dream.’ And now, here I am.

“SHR has such a great group of people, from the Xfinity Series to the Cup Series, and they’ve all just guided me in the right direction. From drivers to crew chiefs to crew members, they’ve always had my back, and that’s been a huge help – just having people believe in you.”

The 28-year-old Briscoe has been with SHR since 2018. He split a limited Xfinity schedule that season between what is now RFK Racing and SHR. He ran full time with SHR in the Xfinity Series in 2019 and ’20 before moving to Cup in 2021.

“Chase has made the most of every opportunity and the proof is in the results. Keeping him at SHR was a priority and we’re proud to have him in our racecars for many more years to come,” said Tony Stewart, who co-owns SHR with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas, in a statement from the team. 

Briscoe’s signing comes two weeks after teammate Kevin Harvick announced that this will be his final season in Cup. 

The Cup season begins Feb. 5 with the Busch Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before going to Daytona for the Feb. 19 Daytona 500.