Chase Briscoe, Stewart Haas Racing, Rush Truck Centers / Cummins Ford Mustang
Briscoe, who needed to win in order to qualify to compete for the 2022 series title next weekend at Phoenix, struggled for track position during much of Sunday’s race.
But during the final caution of the race on Lap 469, while the other seven playoff drivers elected to pit for new tires, Briscoe’s No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team had him stay on the track.
That put Briscoe in the lead when the race restarted with 24 of 500 laps remaining.
At first, Briscoe was able to pull away from the field and it appeared he might be able to hold off the drivers on fresher tires. But eventually Christopher Bell, on new tires, caught Briscoe and passed him with four laps to go.
Bell went on to win the race and Briscoe ended up 10th and last in the standings among the eight semifinal round playoff drivers.
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“That was kind of the only play I felt like we really had. I was honestly surprised nobody else stayed out in front of me,” Briscoe said. “We couldn’t really pass all day long, so we knew if we restarted eighth, where I think we were running, we probably would have run seventh or eighth.
“I thought it was going work for a second. I thought if the race was 10 less laps I was probably going to win, but I just fell off a cliff really hard there at the end. It’s unfortunate, but I had a shot.”
Fighting back from penalty
Briscoe had been hampered earlier in the race when he was penalized for removing equipment from his pit box during stops between Stages 1 and 2. He was forced to restart the race from the rear of the field and lost all of his track position.
“The penalty early in the race killed us. It was really hard to pass and I had to scrap and claw position by position and it took us a really long time to get back up there,” he said. “But I thought our car was pretty good towards the end.
“It would have been nice to be on even tires, for sure. I felt like we had a car capable of running up front and battling for the win, but that was really the only play we had left.”
“I wish I would have done that”
Running behind him, Briscoe ended up watching Chastain’s desperate banzai move on the final lap running the Turn 3 and 4 walls that took him from 10th to a fifth-place finish.
Asked what he thought of the move, Briscoe said, “I wish I would have done it the last eight laps. I would have won the race. I knew he was almost a point out (of the Championship 4) I
thought I heard them say, so I knew down the backstretch he was probably about seven car lengths back from me.
“I knew I was probably going get drove through, so I was watching my mirror and I saw how fast he was coming and I gripped the wheel because I thought this is going hurt pretty bad, and then luckily I saw him go to the wall.
“It was well-executed on his part. I think all of us have thought about that, just none of us have ever been brave enough to ever try it.”