NEWTON, Iowa – Chase Briscoe used four fresh tires to march through the field and earn his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory of the season Saturday afternoon at Iowa Speedway during the U.S. Cellular 250.
The victory was far from easy for the 24-year-old native of Indiana, who had to chase down race-long leader Christopher Bell late in the race. He first had to overcome a penalty for running over an air gun hose that dropped him to the rear of the field during a caution period on lap 152.
On top of that, Briscoe opted not to take fresh tires during that caution period while most of the leaders opted for four fresh tires. That meant Briscoe would have to work his way through the field on older tires while trying to stay on the lead lap.
Luckily for Briscoe the caution periods fell perfectly. A caution on lap 162 for Briscoe’s teammate Cole Custer allowed Briscoe to close the gap on the field. Then another caution for Michael Annett spinning on lap 200 opened the door for Briscoe to hit pit road for four fresh tires.
With most of the other leaders out of fresh tires, Briscoe suddenly found himself with an advantage over most of the field, including Bell.
When the race resumed with 43 laps left Briscoe restarted outside the top-10, but he quickly marched to the front of the pack. With 37 laps to go Briscoe was up to fourth behind Bell and two other drivers who had pitted for tires – John Hunter Nemechek and Ryan Sieg.
The final caution flag of the race waved with 33 laps left when the engine in Brandon Brown’s Chevrolet expired. During the caution period Dillon Bassett ran into the back of a sweeper truck while trying to get to pit road, extending the caution period a few more laps.
When the green flag finally waved with 22 to go Briscoe quickly went to work. He dispatched Sieg to take third and after battling with Nemechek for several laps and trading the second position a few times, Briscoe was finally able to take second position and began chasing Bell with 15 laps left.
It took five laps for Briscoe to chase down Bell and begin looking for a way by. With seven laps left Briscoe made his move, looking to Bell’s inside coming out of turn four. The two raced side-by-side down the frontstretch and into turn one, where Briscoe was able to clear Bell to take the lead.
Once in front Briscoe steadily pulled away, beating Bell to the finish line by a little more than a second.
“It was a fun race first off,” said Briscoe, who earned his first Xfinity Series victory last year at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s ROVAL. “I just can’t believe it. I felt like when we stayed out and just did fuel only, it was going to be a lot better. Then I ran over the hose. So I was kind of worried.
“Once we got that caution when I was going to restart fourth I knew I was going to be in really good shape. Christopher was way better than I thought he was going to be on those tires. It was fun. We were throwing sliders on each other and everything else.”
Bell, who was looking for his third-straight Iowa Speedway Xfinity Series victory, was forced to settle for second.
“That was tough. To be able to hold him off for as long as I did and not win the race stings,” Bell admitted. “This Rheem Supra was super fast today. I don’t know. It’s kind of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Whenever he got inside of me there I felt like my best bet to win the race was to try and stay right on his door and chase him down into the corner.
“Maybe I could have charged the corner a little bit harder and not let him clear me. Or just opened up my entry and tried to turn down. I don’t know.”
Nemechek ended up third, followed by Noah Gragson and Tyler Reddick.
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