Richard Boswell

Chase Briscoe: Dale Jr. ‘changed my entire outlook’ of superspeedway races

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Before a roughly 45-minute conversation with Dale Earnhardt Jr. last year, Xfinity Series driver Chase Briscoe “used to despise” competing on superspeedways like Talladega Superspeedway.

“I went there with the mentality I was just gonna ride around and hopefully the wreck would happen and I wouldn’t be in it and I’d maybe finish in the top 10 or whatever,” Briscoe said. “And not that I wasn’t going there to win, but I was just there making laps essentially.”

But early last year Briscoe had a lengthy phone call with Earnhardt, the winner of six Cup Series races and one Xfinity race at Talladega, that “changed my entire outlook on those races.”

The changed perspective in part resulted in Briscoe’s fourth-place finish at Talladega last year in his second Xfinity start at the track.

Before that he had a 16th-place finish in 2018 and he placed 22nd in his lone Truck Series start there in 2017.

“I’ve logged a lot of laps and been up front and in contention and just talking to (Earnhardt) and how he approaches those races and his mentality, just how you race them was the total 180 (degrees) opposite of how I was going to go in there,” Briscoe said. “And I felt like ever since I talked to Dale, it’s been a night and day difference, my outlook going to the races. But typically, whenever I get done, I’m like, ‘Man, that was a lot of fun. I’m ready to keep going,’ where the past I would have never said that.”

Added Briscoe: “A lot of people say for the most part that (doing well in) those races are luck, which there is a certain variable of that, but typically you see the same guys winning at the superspeedways, whether it’s Denny (Hamlin) or Joey (Logano) or Brad (Keselowski) or any of those guys and even Dale back when he was racing. So it’s not a coincidence that he got lucky necessarily that many times, there’s something to it. Talking to Dale I feel like really opened my eyes up a lot.”

What was the biggest piece of advice Earnhardt passed on to the 25-year-old driver?

“Just be the aggressor,” Briscoe said. “Now I go there with mentality, I’m going to try to lead every single lap. If I get hung out to dry or whatever, and I fall back to 30th, that’s fine. I’m going to try to drive right back to the lead anytime I get any kind of a run whatsoever. … I just feel like you almost approach it like you’re going go-kart racing. If you wreck, you wreck. But you’re going there to try to lead every single lap you can and it’s just a different style of racing. On the mile-and-half-stuff that’s the mentality I use, and there’s no reason why on superpeedways I wouldn’t use that same mentality of trying to lead every lap.”

That mentality has resulted in Briscoe earning a series-leading three wins so far this year, at Las Vegas, Darlington and last weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. That win qualified him to compete for the Dash 4 Cash bonus today at Talladega (5:30 p.m. ET on FS1). He will race against Brandon Jones, Ross Chastain and AJ Allmendinger for the $100,000 prize.

However, for the second race in a row Briscoe will be without his main crew chief, Richard Boswell. Boswell, the team’s car chief and an engineer were suspended four races after last weekend’s first race at Miami, a result of a piece of ballast falling off Briscoe’s No. 98 Ford during the pace laps.

Boswell was replaced on the pit box on Sunday by Stewart-Haas Racing’s vice president of competition, Greg Zipadelli, who will also be in that position Saturday.

“Right now the point is to have him do it at Talladega,” Briscoe said. “I think that’s kind of all of our goal is to have Zippy do it for the following two races, but it’s just dependent on what is going on on the Cup side. That’s obviously priority No. 1 for him. … It was different in a sense of how Zippy communicates and just some of the lingo he uses and his demeanor compared to Boswell. … Obviously, Zippy, he’s won plenty races and championships in the past. So we know he’s more than capable of the job.

“At the same time, this is the perfect opportunity for an interim chief to step in just because of the situation, we’re not practicing or anything. So Boswell’s still setting the car up and everything at home. He’s just not allowed to go to the racetrack. So all that Zippy has to do is really call the race and get the car through tech. So it’s kind of a blessing in disguise for us if this was going to happen just because of the situation we’re in. The only place that it’ll even affect us is Indy (July 4), where we have practice. But we’re confident Zippy’s more than capable of doing the job. And that’s the great thing about Stewart-Haas, we have so much depth all across companies, if something happens. We always have a perfect backup plan.”

NASCAR Penalty report from Miami

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Six crew chiefs across the NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series were fined for not having properly installed lug nuts.

In the Cup series, crew chiefs James Small (for the No. 19 team of Martin Truex Jr.) and Chad Johnston (No. 42 Matt Kenseth team) each were fined $10,000 for the lug nut infraction.

In the Xfinity Series, crew chiefs Alexander Yontz (No. 11 Justin Haley team), Jeff Meendering (No. 19 Brandon Jones team) and Bryan Smith (No. 26 Colin Garrett team) each were fined $5,000 for the lug nut infraction.

In the Truck Series, crew chief Paul Clapprood (No. 44 Ross Chastain team) was fined $2,500 for the infraction.

NASCAR previously announced that crew chief Richard Boswell, car chief Nicholas Hutchins and engineer Daren Vanderley were suspended four races each after ballast fell out of Chase Briscoe‘s car.

NASCAR also previously announced that the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports team was docked 10 owner points for the track bar mount and support not meeting specifications.

Two Xfinity crew chiefs fined for lug nut violations

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NASCAR has fined two Xfinity Series crew chiefs for unsecured lug nuts following Thursday’s race at Darlington.

Brian Wilson, crew chief on Austin Cindric‘s No. 22 Ford, and Richard Boswell, crew chief on Chase Briscoe‘s No. 98 Ford, were each fined $5,000 for one unsecured lug nut on their cars.

Briscoe won Thursday’s race for his second victory of the year.

Long: Chase Briscoe celebrates, mourns in victory

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In separate states, they were connected by technology and love.

Two days before he scored one of NASCAR’s most emotional victories in recent memory, Chase Briscoe sat alone in his motorhome Tuesday at a rainy Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. He watched via FaceTime as wife Marissa, 12 weeks pregnant, underwent a routine checkup at a doctor’s office in North Carolina.

The baby girl would be the couple’s first child. She was due to arrive Dec. 1, a day after Chase and Marissa’s first anniversary.

Briscoe wrote on social media that he was “wishing so desperately that I could be by (Marissa’s) side to hear the heartbeat for the first time.”

As Briscoe watched his wife undergo an ultra sound, he heard the doctor say: “Now for the heartbeat.”

Silence.

Briscoe then heard the doctor again.

“I’m so sorry.”

Briscoe could only comfort his wife through the phone. He couldn’t embrace her.

They were together. And alone at the same time.

When she walked in our house and my parents were there to give her a hug, that’s when I finally kind of broke down just because I knew somebody was finally there for her,” Briscoe said.

Two hours after the race was to have begun, it was postponed, allowing Briscoe to return home to be with his wife.

As they comforted each other Wednesday, Briscoe told his wife: “I’m going to win this thing for you,” referring to Thursday’s Xfinity race at Darlington.

“We both kind of laughed about it, not really believing it, but I told her this could be a huge thing for us. We just experienced the lowest of lows and this could really be a high that we need right now, so I was just feeling that pressure of trying to put it together.”

That day, Briscoe revealed the news on social media.

Many people reached out to them, including Samantha Busch, wife of Kyle Busch. Samantha and Kyle endured infertility issues before having son Brexton, who celebrated his fifth birthday Monday. Samantha Busch has suffered miscarriages since.

“It was really good for my wife, Marissa, to be able to talk with Samantha,” Briscoe said. “I haven’t talked to Kyle, but for Samantha to reach out, she didn’t have to do that by any means, so for her to do that and seek out Marissa’s number — Marissa doesn’t really talk to anybody in the racing world — so for her to be able to find her number definitely meant a lot and we want to thank the Busch family for that.”

When Briscoe returned to the track Thursday, rain again was a companion, delaying the start more than four hours, keeping him away from his wife even longer.

When it was time to race — the first time the Xfinity Series had competed since March 7 at Phoenix — Briscoe admits “it was like I was in a whole other world. It was just weird.”

His focus returned as his car’s handling went away. He worked his way into the lead shortly past the start of the final stage.

As he led, he saw raindrops.

“What if this thing rains out and I’m in the lead?’ Briscoe said he thought to himself. “I knew Marissa was home watching and both of our families were at home, and just feeling that weight on my shoulders of if this happens it’s gonna be a big thing for our family.”

The rain dissipated. The race continued.

As Briscoe led in the final laps, Kyle Busch lurked, his car moving closer to the front and headed toward what seemed an inevitable victory.

Briscoe tagged the wall off Turn 4, giving Busch an opening to lead at the start/finish line to begin the final lap.

Briscoe rallied, squeezing between Busch’s car and the wall in Turn 1. Busch, the all-time wins leader in the Xfinity Series, got beside Briscoe in Turn 4 but Briscoe was in the preferred lane coming to the finish.

“Clear … Clear … Clear,” spotter Tim Fedewa radioed Briscoe. “Hell yeah!”

Briscoe beat Busch by 86-thousandths of a second.

Briscoe keyed the radio to celebrate but only sobs were heard.

Crew chief Richard Boswell filled the gap.

“You’re a hell of a man, buddy,” Boswell said. “You’re a hell of a man. That one is for you. That one is for your wife. And that one is for your baby.”

As he returned to his motorhome in the infield, Briscoe FaceTimed his wife.

“She’s still in not the best mood because of what happened, but it definitely raised her spirits up a little bit,” he said. “But it’s not by any means swept under the rug. This is still really serious for us, and we’re struggling right now.”

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