SALEM, Ind. – If all goes to plan, the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 will have another hometown hero in the line-up this weekend at Salem Speedway.
Chase Briscoe, who hails from nearby Mitchell, Ind., is preparing to take on the historic high-banks alongside his fellow ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards warriors. If t-shirt sales are an indication of how healthy his cheering section will be, Briscoe’s going to get quite a send-off Sunday afternoon for the 99th ARCA race at Salem.
“We bought t-shirts…sold over 400,” Briscoe said. “Last time I checked we have over 300 tickets in reserved seating. It’s going to be really cool.”
It’s also humbling for the 21-year-old veteran sprint car racer.
“We’ve got a lot of people from the town of Mitchell who have really gotten behind us. It’s really humbling…it’s awesome.
“We grew up racing sprint cars on the dirt…that’s what we did. We never used to go to pavement tracks growing up…except for Salem. Growing up, my grandpa and my dad always took me to Salem to see the ARCA race and USAC. This place has always been really special to me.”
Just think how special it would be for so many if Briscoe can somehow, someway race his way to victory lane. Like several drivers, he and his Cunningham Motorsports team got the chance to test at Salem ahead of Sunday’s show.
“The test went really well…we’ve got speed for sure. It was a very productive day and I learned a lot. It was the most I ever got out of a car there. I learned a ton.”
Briscoe finished an impressive fifth in his first start at Salem last fall in only his second ARCA start overall. And if he can get more out of his car, a victory seems more in reach, despite the difficulty factor that comes with one of the tour’s most challenging short tracks.
“Salem’s a challenge…there’s no getting around that. But for me, with no real experience on pavement, it’s not even the track so much…it’s how you can drive these cars. It’s adjusting to the pace compared to a sprint car. I’m learning you don’t have to drive the ARCA cars in as deep every time. You let the car roll…hardly use any brakes. The motor will slow you down without using the brakes.
“The team got on me at Nashville…felt I was using too much brake. I’m still learning how to drive these cars.
“It’s just one big giant learning curve…learning a new pace…30 laps compared to 200…pit stops…the whole deal.”
Briscoe is off to a great start, finishing fourth at Daytona and ninth at Nashville. He’s currently second in championship standings, 55 points away from leader John Wes Townley. However, Townley, because of his full NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule, will more than likely miss a few ARCA races, which puts Briscoe in the championship driver’s seat.