INDIANAPOLIS — Chase Briscoe remembers the first time he saw Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His father was driving the car and young Briscoe was only 6 years old. The family was buying the youngster a fire suit for quarter-midget racing.
He was amazed by how big the speedway looked from the outside. As he aged, the native of Mitchell, Ind., watched both the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400 from the stands at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“It’s always special just getting to come here; but it’s even more special getting to drive a race car here,” Briscoe told SPEED SPORT Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Briscoe is a native Hoosier getting to live his dream of racing for another Indiana born and bred racer, Tony Stewart. Briscoe drives the No. 98 Ford Performance Ford and will be on the grid for Saturday’s eighth annual Indiana 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race.
So, what’s it like for a native Hoosier to get to race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
“It’s honestly one of the most humbling experiences you can have,” Briscoe said. “I was thinking as I was walking to the car, coming here four years ago, passing out business cards and having to sneak in here to do that.
“It’s crazy now that I’m driving for my hero in Tony Stewart at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a top NASCAR series,” Briscoe added. “It’s unbelievable and humbling.
“To get to run one lap here, one race here for a small town, Southern Indiana kid is something very special.”
Earlier this week, Briscoe was one of the many drivers who got to take part in the BC39 Midget Classic at the Dirt Track at IMS. The event wrapped up Thursday night and honors the memory of Bryan Clauson, who was killed in the Belleville Nationals on Aug. 7, 2016.
“Bryan Clauson was someone I looked up to,” Briscoe said. “He was four or five years older than me and my Dad was still racing when Bryan started when he was 13. I thought, ‘Man, that kid isn’t much older than me and he’s racing against my dad, running up front and battling for wins.’
“Then, I started racing sprint cars when I was 13 and Bryan is the guy I always looked up to.
“It’s special that Indianapolis Motor Speedway honors Bryan the way they do,” Briscoe added. “Bryan had a lot of history here, running the Indianapolis 500. He is the only guy in the last 15 or 20 years that has opened that doorway to sprint car guys having a chance to run in the Indy 500 without having money behind them.”
Briscoe has high praise for both the BC39 and the work Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles has done by adding grassroots racing to the NASCAR weekend at IMS.
“Doug Boles does an amazing job supporting grass roots racing,” Briscoe said. Last night was the first night I met him in person, but he has revitalized the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. How he is able to tie in dirt racing with IndyCar and NASCAR, the grassroots level of racing. Everybody feels welcome when they come to IMS to promote the sport.
“Both sides benefit,” Briscoe continued. “There are dirt fans who wouldn’t go to a NASCAR race or watch a NASCAR race, but there is Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell and myself, guys they watched at the local dirt-track racing here. There are also NASCAR fans that would probably never watch a dirt track race or a midget race of a sprint car race, now they see guys like us in NASCAR go down there and it piques their interest.
“I think it’s the perfect circle, in my opinion.”
With NASCAR Xfinity Series’ playoff field determined next week at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, Briscoe is hoping and confident he is ready for that challenge.
“I think it’s going to be one of those guys laying in the weeds and I think that’s going to be us,” said Briscoe, who is locked into the playoff field after a victory at Iowa Speedway earlier this year. “The last seven weeks, we haven’t run outside of the top six or seven. We’ve been up front every week.
“I like the fact we are doing it quietly. There is not as much pressure to run up front. We’ve put ourselves in positions every week and people don’t recognize us.
“We’ve been peaking at the right time and hitting our stride at the right time,” he said. “If we can get to Homestead, I believe we will be one of those guys that is tough to beat. Getting there is the hardest part.”