Pat DiMarco

Chase Briscoe getting extra laps at Road America in sports car

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While the Xfinity Series is taking a much needed weekend off from racing, Chase Briscoe is keeping busy.

He’ll be spending his weekend doing some “pretty last-minute” extra credit work ahead of the Xfinity Series’ Aug. 8 race at Road America.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver is set to compete in this weekend’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race at the Wisconsin road course. Briscoe will pilot a PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4 with co-driver James Pesek.

“I want to say about a week-and-a-half ago Pat DiMarco over at Ford Performance had called and asked if I had any interest in even running the Mustang,” Briscoe said earlier this week. “He felt like it would be a good opportunity for me just to get some laps at Road America, especially with us not getting any practice on the NASCAR side, so I felt like it would be a great opportunity.”

More: NASCAR adds chicane to Daytona road course

The IMSA race comes ahead of Briscoe’s second Xfinity start at Road America. He placed seventh there last year.

Briscoe has competed in nine IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge races in the last three years as part of his role as a Ford development driver.

“I always enjoyed road racing,” Briscoe said. “I hadn’t even done it until 2016 and I enjoyed doing it, but I wasn’t very fast at all. I was always three to three-and-a-half seconds off the fastest guy. I felt like I was going fast, but I wasn’t fast at all and then in 2018 Ford had me run (six of 10) IMSA races and then I was able to actually win on a road course that year (at the Charlotte Roval) and follow that up this year winning at Indy on the road course.

“I feel like though my road course skills have gotten way better, I still have quite a bit to do to get better, but I’m definitely way more in the ballpark now than I ever was before I started running this IMSA stuff. Hopefully, that same experience at Road America this weekend will help for the following weekend.”

A week after the Xfinity race at Road America, the series takes on another road course with its inaugural race on the Daytona International Speedway road course. Briscoe has competed on the circuit in each of the last three years in IMSA.

Briscoe detailed the differences in driving his sports car Mustang to the stock car version.

“Even though we’re going there in a stock car, I don’t feel like I’m anymore prepared than the next guy just because they are so different,” Briscoe said. “The IMSA cars, have (anti-lock braking system), they have traction control, paddle shift. They just drive a lot easier than the stock car. The stock car, I feel like you have to hustle a lot more. They don’t want to turn left and right, where these IMSA cars are obviously built for that. When you go run the IMSA stuff, you feel like you’re running a purposely-built road course car, where on the NASCAR side they don’t want to stop good, they don’t want to turn left and right quick good, so it’s just a totally different mindset in how you race, and even the racing style is quite a bit different.”

Briscoe said the Xfinity race next weekend will be “good practice” for the Daytona road course given the lack of practice and qualifying.

“You throw in at least a majority of the field has laps at Road America, where there is only gonna be I think three or four guys that have any laps at Daytona,” Briscoe said. “I think it’s gonna be a good warmup. Turn 1, I think will be relatively easy, but you go into Turn 3 or Turn 5 in these heavy braking zones when we’re up to speed, it’s gonna be pretty chaotic I think, especially from a standpoint of the random draw. …

“I think the oval racing has been pretty exciting just from the standpoint of no practice and seeing guys come and go throughout the field. You do that at a road course it’s gonna be even more extreme.”

Ford executive intervened in Daytona squabble among drivers

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The global director of Ford Performance said the manufacturer intervened between Ford drivers after the Daytona 500, which saw a Toyota driver celebrate the win and Ford drivers fume at each other afterward.

Shortly after Denny Hamlin won the Daytona 500, Ford driver Joey Logano exited his car on pit road and confronted fellow Ford driver Michael McDowell about McDowell not pushing him on the final lap. McDowell was upset with how he had been treated by Ford drivers earlier in the race. 

Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance, told “The Morning Drive” Wednesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that Ford got involved with those issues afterward. 

“I will say that we frequently get involved,” he said. “We don’t always get involved, but certainly after Daytona, like I said, we’re a family and every family has issues. For sure we had our issues at Daytona, can’t deny that. But as a family, we talked through those issues, tried to understand what led to those issues and then how can we fix that and make it even better going forward.

“We were disappointed with the result at Daytona, I think every single one of our drivers and our company. I think a lot of that frustration played out postrace because we had fast cars, and we weren’t able to capitalize on it, so I think a lot of those emotions came to the front. But we’ve talked through them, and I think most of those wounds are healed, or I at least hope they are, and looking forward to continuing those relationships that we have.”

Ford preaches a “One Ford” mantra with its teams to emphasize the importance of working together.

Asked on “The Morning Drive” who intervenes from Ford in such situations, Rushbrook said: “A lot of that is me. The great thing with Edsel Ford (great-grandson of Ford founder Henry Ford), we call him ‘The Godfather of Ford Racing.’ He will sit down with the drivers when they’re at the track. When Edsel Ford speaks, I think it carries a lot of weight and the drivers listen and they put a lot of value into that.

“But Edsel is not at the track every weekend so a lot of that will fall to me or Pat DiMarco (NASCAR Program Supervisor, Ford Performance), and we have open relationships with our drivers, crew chiefs and competition directors. If we see an issue, we’re going to talk to them about it and understand what is going on and the best way to go forward. It’s a family. We talk through it and find a way to keep going.”

This week things were better for Ford, which celebrated the first Cup win for the Mustang with Brad Keselowski winning at Atlanta.

“That was really great to see,” Rushbrook said. “So much hard work has gone into that program for well over a year and a half and to see it come together like that with five Mustangs in the top 10 and Brad pushing through the flu that he was fighting and get it to victory lane, that was awesome.”