BRISTOL, Tenn. – A week after a difficult outing at Richmond Raceway, Chase Briscoe rebounded in the best way possible with a victory Friday night in the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season finale at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The victory was Briscoe’s seventh of the year in the No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang. He admitted that the 16th-place finish last week at Richmond was a major motivating factor entering Friday’s Food City 300.
“I was so mad after last week,” Briscoe said. “I told all the guys there ain’t no way we’re getting beat today. I was so mad after how we ran last week and I get on the internet all the time and see guys count us out after one bad race and I know what this team is capable of and I’m just so happy to get Ford Performance Racing School back in victory lane.”
For most of the final run Briscoe ran third behind Xfinity Series regular season champion Austin Cindric and Ross Chastain. Cindric had taken the lead from Chastain during a restart with 49 to go and appeared in position to claim the victory as Chastain and Briscoe gave chase.
However, in the final 30 laps Cindric reported to his crew that his Team Penske Ford Mustang had suddenly lost power steering. Like sharks smelling blood in the water, Chastain and Briscoe started to close in on the vulnerable Cindric.
Before Briscoe could challenge Cindric, he first had to deal with Chastain. With 11 laps left Briscoe was able to muscle his way under Chastain to challenge for second. The two made contact, banging fenders as they exited turn two while fighting for valuable real estate down the backstretch.
Coming out of turn four Briscoe was able to clear Chastain and set off in pursuit of Cindric. With Cindric still struggling in front of him, Briscoe ran him down in two laps and began to challenge for the lead.
With six laps left Briscoe got to the inside of Cindric and by the time they exited turn two Briscoe was clear of Cindric and in the race lead. Chastain quickly followed Briscoe by Cindric on the next lap, but he wasn’t going to be catching Briscoe.
At the checkered flag, Briscoe crossed the finish line .651 seconds ahead of Chastain to earn his first victory at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“I had no idea that Austin had no power steering,” Briscoe said after the race. “I knew my car was really good on long runs. It seemed like with about 15 to go our car just came to life compared to those front two guys and I kind of found something on the race track and with my brake levers that helped me quite a bit.
“If I spent too much time with Ross, then I felt like I was going to get to Austin. I was able to get by Ross fairly quickly,” Briscoe continued. “I knew that if a caution came out I was going to be in trouble. I just wanted to get the lead as quick as possible and try to drive away because you never know.”
Chastain settled for second for the fifth time this season as he continues to battle for his first victory this year as he prepares to start the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs next weekend at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway.
“It’s tough fighting for everything. I want this so bad, to be in this sport and win races. I know it’s second, it’s great, I know I should be so happy but man, it’s Bristol,” Chastain said. “There are a lot of things I could have done different. I just didn’t get it done.”
Cindric held on to finish third, followed by Harrison Burton in fourth. Justin Allgaier, who swept the first two stages and led a race-high 126 laps, struggled during the final stage and had to settle for fifth.
Brandon Brown finished 12th to claim the 12th and final place in the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs.
For complete results, click below.