austin cindric

Chase Briscoe: Austin Cindric has been ‘mentor’ in NASCAR rise

Leave a comment

Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric had a tall order in store for them when the 2020 Xfinity Series season began.

A year after struggling to find success against the onslaught of the “Big 3” of Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Cole Custer, they had a chance grab more of the spotlight.

But Briscoe, in his second full-time year with Stewart-Haas Racing, and Cindric, in his second full year with Team Penske, had to do it as the only Ford drivers in the field.

It’s worked out so far.

Ahead of the doubleheader races at Kentucky Speedway this week, Briscoe has a series-leading five wins – four more than in his last two seasons. Meanwhile, Cindric is winless but he’s fourth in the points after posting seven top fives in addition to two top 10s.

Their resilience against the competition is helped in part by the defacto Ford teammates having been joined at the hip in their rise through the racing ranks.

“We drive for different race teams, but we’re the only two Fords in the series and as soon as I came to pavement (from dirt racing), Austin’s really been by my side throughout that whole thing,” Briscoe said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “On Track.” “When I was driving in ARCA for (Briggs) Cunningham, he came in and ran a limited schedule. The next year we’re teammates in the Truck Series full-time (at Brad Keselowski Racing). Then following year in 2018 we’re teammates at Roush (Fenway Racing) and do an IMSA stuff together. Austin really has been my mentor throughout all the road course racing stuff.”

Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe were teammates at Brad Keselowski Racing in 2017 and at Roush Fenway Racing in 2018. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Briscoe said when they first started in IMSA, he was four to five seconds off Cindric’s pace. On Saturday, he topped Cindric and road-course ace AJ Allmendinger to win the inaugural race on the Indianapolis road course.

“(Cindric) was there to coach me along the way and teach me all the little things he knows,” Briscoe told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “Now even in the Xfinity car, every time we go to a road course, even at Indy, the day of the race I talked to him, we went and had lunch together. I’m asking him questions that truthfully I’m probably not expecting him to give the honest answer. But I know he’ll shoot me straight just because that’s the kind of guy he is.”

Even though they’re the closest thing they have to teammates, Briscoe believes “no matter what, me and Austin are always going to be really hard competitors against each other for winning races. But we still want to see each other succeed. If I can’t win, I want to see Austin win. I know he’s the same way with me. So it’s really nice when you can have that camaraderie.”

Of Briscoe’s five wins this season, two have been on 1.5-mile tracks. Thursday’s race (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1) will be his fourth overall start at Kentucky Speedway and his second in Xfinity. The 25-year-old driver isn’t too fond of the track in Sparta, Kentucky.

“Statistically, I’ve always been terrible at Kentucky for whatever reason that is,” Briscoe said. “I haven’t had the best luck there.”

However, backed by his five wins, Briscoe is confident he’ll have a good car for the doubleheader. He also notes his former Xfinity teammate at Stewart-Haas Racing, Cole Custer, was “really good” there last year, when he led 88 laps and won. Briscoe finished fifth.

“I feel like from an experience standpoint and a confidence standpoint, I’ll be way better this year,” Briscoe told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I’m looking forward to going there and trying to get two wins.

“Normally if you have a bad race you gotta wait a whole ‘nother week to get back behind the wheel. And we’re fortunate to have another chance the next day. It kind of goes back to Homestead this year. Saturday, we had an issue and felt like we were the best car but we were able to redeem ourselves Sunday. Hopefully you’re there this week and get two wins.”

Penalty report from Indianapolis

Leave a comment

NASCAR issued penalties Tuesday to two Xfinity Series teams for infractions that incurred during this past weekend’s racing action at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The more serious infraction — a loss or separation of an improperly installed rear axle — was assessed to Daniel Johnson, crew chief for Xfinity Series driver Tommy Joe Martins, after the axle broke during Saturday’s race on the IMS road course.

Johnson has been suspended for the next Xfinity Series points event, which will be the first race of this weekend’s Xfinity doubleheader at Kentucky Speedway (Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

The other penalty was assessed to Brian Wilson, crew chief for Austin Cindric, due to an unsecured lug nut. Wilson has been fined $5,000.

There were no other penalties issued.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

 

Long: No fans mutes Indy soundtrack, but Chase Briscoe still relishes win

Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS — Mimicking what his hero Tony Stewart twice did at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Chase Briscoe climbed the fence after winning Saturday’s Xfinity Series race on the road course.

But unlike Stewart, who looked out to a sea of fans bathing him in cheers, Briscoe saw only empty gray bleachers and heard only the shouts of his crew members who joined him on the ascent.

The culmination of a historic doubleheader with the NTT IndyCar Series and the Xfinity Series also meant the end of a day — and a July 4 at that — unlike any other at the famed speedway.

No fans at NASCAR races have become common during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the sight — and lack of sound — at Indy was stark.

Sunday’s Cup race will not have fans. It also will not have seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who announced Friday he and his wife have contracted the coronavirus.

Johnson says he is asymptomatic but admits he has more questions than answers about how he and his wife got the virus and when he’ll be able to return to racing. Sunday was to have been his final Cup start in a race he’s won four times.

Johnson will be missed. So will be the fans. Just as they were Saturday.

The fans provide a soundtrack to any event, even a race where engine noise dominates. There was no roar from the crowd when the command to start engines was made. No cheers for the winner when he emerged from his car in victory lane. No oohs and ahhs when the top four cars in the Xfinity race sailed down the long front straightaway into a sharp right-hand turn with two laps left, dueling for the win.

The only sound came from the engines echoing off the canyon of empty seats.

Even in the smallest settings, interactions were missed. When Scott Dixon won the IndyCar race earlier in the day, his crew, unable to be in victory lane because of protocols, stood on a stairwell 20 feet above him and clapped.

When Briscoe won, there was no family to greet him. Two years ago his father had tears seeing Briscoe drive at Indy. One could only imagine what his reaction would have been Saturday.

My family is probably crying at home,” said Briscoe, an Indiana native. “I was thinking about that the last couple of laps. That is tough. I wish they could have been here to experience it. It is something that may not ever happen again. It is definitely bittersweet to win without them here.”

If he wins again at Indy, good chance it could be with Stewart-Haas Racing. Greg Zipadelli, SHR’s competition director, served as Briscoe’s interim crew chief because Richard Boswell was serving the final race of a four-race suspension and voiced his support for Briscoe.

“I think he is still young and has a lot to learn, but I am very, very impressed with how quick he is learning how to race these stock cars,” Zipadelli said. “I hope he is a part of Stewart-Haas for a long period of time.”

What makes Briscoe — only the second driver to win five of the first 13 races of a season in the Xfinity Series — stand out?

“He is able to dig deep,” Zipadelli said. “There are some people that when it is time to close, I see that a lot in him, he finds a little bit extra. He has a lot of confidence but isn’t getting cocky, which I love. Most of all he is just a good race car driver.”

While IndyCar had run on this course, this was new for Xfinity Series. Briscoe had prepared since February for this race, spending time weekly on the Ford simulator driving the 14-turn, 2.439-mile course. The training came through as Briscoe battled AJ Allmendinger, Austin Cindric and Justin Haley for the lead late. 

Even though Haley finished second to Briscoe, he still enjoyed the afternoon.

“I have zero complaints about the Indy road course,” Haley said. “I thought it was an amazing day

“When the fans are back, I think it’s going to be better.”

Briscoe said he can’t wait for fans to be back at this track and elsewhere.

“They are the reason you celebrate and the last couple of times I didn’t really celebrate because without the fans I don’t get hyped up,” he said. “Here I was obviously excited. I wish there were fans here.”

Even so, Briscoe would still have a celebration.

A former dirt track racer, Briscoe planned to visit a dirt track Saturday night within an hour’s drive of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“My little sister has decided she wants to try to drive a race car,” Briscoe said. “At the end of the night she is going to drive a mini-sprint around there for 20 or 30 laps. I am going to head there and see a lot of my friends I don’t get to see anymore and hang out with my dad and family.”

 and on Facebook

Results, standings after Indianapolis Xfinity race

Leave a comment

After being pushed out of the lead, Chase Briscoe roared right back in the closing laps to win Saturday’s inaugural NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It’s Briscoe’s fifth win of the season. He predicted in the preseason that he would win eight races in 2020. He’s now just three wins away from that goal.

Justin Haley finished second, followed by Noah Gragson, AJ Allmendinger and Austin Cindric.

Click here for results

Ranked No. 1, Briscoe opened his lead on Noah Gragson to 21 points in the driver standings and a 55-point edge over third-ranked Ross Chastain.

Updated Xfinity driver points after Indy

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Chase Briscoe wins inaugural Xfinity race on Indy road course

Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS — Chase Briscoe had been practicing on a simulator since February for Saturday and he survived a four-car battle for the lead in the final laps to win Saturday’s inaugural Xfinity race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. 

The Indiana native scored his fifth series win in 13 races this season, becoming only the second driver in series history to win as many races in the same time frame. Sam Ard holds the record with six wins in the first 13 races of the season.

MORE: Race results 

Briscoe celebrated Saturday’s victory with his team by climbing the fence, just as Tony Stewart used to do. Briscoe and the team also kissed the bricks at the start/finish line.

“Everybody knows that I grew up and my hero in racing was Tony Stewart,” Briscoe said. “To get to drive for him and watch him win the Brickyard, (climbing the fence) was always his signature thing and I just wanted to do it. Obviously it is not the same prestige as winning on the oval, but you still won at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

Justin Haley, who also is from Indiana, finished second. Noah Gragson was third and followed by AJ Allmendinger and Austin Cindric.

“I think we saw that the racing was amazing,” Haley said.

Briscoe earned the win by outbraking Allmendinger into Turn 1 to take the lead with two laps to go. The top four cars ran two abreast through Turns 1 and 2. Briscoe kept the lead and pulled away as Allmendinger and Cindric made contact racing for second.

“I think today is a statement win,” Briscoe said. “I don’t think anybody had us as a favorite today with Allmendinger and Cindric in the field but we knew down deep we could run with those guys.”

Cindric’s race took a turn when NASCAR penalized him for jumping the restart. Cindric was furious on the radio about the penalty, saying Riley Herbst pushed him but that didn’t matter to series officials. Cindric was leading by the time the penalty was called and fell back to 31st by the time he serve his penalty by driving through pit road on Lap 31.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Austin Cindric

STAGE 2 WINNER: Chase Briscoe

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Justin Haley’s runner-up finish is his best result in six road course events. … Preston Pardus finished 10th in his third career start. … Jade Buford finished 14th in his Xfinity Series debut.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: It’s hard to say that a sixth consecutive top-five at a road course is a bad race, but Austin Cindric, one of the favorites, was penalized for jumping a restart, had a slow pit stop when he parked his car too close to pit wall and lost positions later when a tire changer had trouble removing a wheel. … Brandon Jones finished 37th.

NOTABLE: All seven of Chase Briscoe’s Xfinity Series wins have come on different tracks.

NEXT: The series races Thursday at Kentucky Speedway, the first of back-to-back night races there for the series.