AVONDALE, Ariz. — The feeling of defeat almost won.
Chase Briscoe packed up his North Carolina life and decided it was time to head home to Indiana. Stock-car racing didn’t seem to be in the cards for the then-20-year-old. He’d made just two ARCA starts, and nothing else was on tap.
“I called my mom, I remember, an hour before,” Briscoe said. “I was bawling. I was over it. I felt like I had been kicked so many times, had no opportunities.
“An hour later, I got that phone call.”
The one that changed everything.
Briggs and Beth Cunningham asked if Briscoe wanted to test their ARCA car in 2015. That trial run then turned into a full-time gig come 2016. Briscoe won six of the 20 races that season en route to the championship.
The next year, Briscoe made his NASCAR debut in the Camping World Truck Series – Feb. 24, 2017 at Daytona International Speedway. He finished third, driving full time for Brad Keselowski Racing. In the season finale, on Nov. 17, 2017 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Briscoe won his first NASCAR race.
Last Sunday – seven years removed from that call – Briscoe broke through to Victory Lane at Phoenix Raceway in the Cup Series, becoming the 200th driver to win at NASCAR’s top level.
“I never thought I’d win a Truck race, let alone win in all three series now,” Briscoe said. “It’s super special. Can’t believe it. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I don’t know if it will for a while.”
Briscoe has now won a Cup, two Truck and 11 Xfinity Series races, making the 27-year-old one of 38 NASCAR drivers to win in all three divisions.
Sunday’s victory came in Briscoe’s 40th career Cup Series start, all with Stewart-Haas Racing. He’d only even finished in the top five one other time – earlier this season at Daytona, where he came in third. His best rookie result in 2021 was sixth (twice) at Road America and Circuit of The Americas.
“I think from a confidence standpoint, I feel like I belong this year,” Briscoe said. “Last year, you’re very eyes wide open. You’re racing against guys you’ve watched on TV for years, you’ve looked up to. Now, I don’t look at the 18 car and go, ‘That’s Kyle Busch.’ It’s just the 18 car, another guy out there.”
The next time NASCAR returns to Phoenix’s 1-mile track: the championship, Nov. 6. And Briscoe is already guaranteed a playoff berth by virtue of his victory. He’s the fourth driver to lock in, joining Austin Cindric, Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman, who won the opening three events.
There are 22 races left in the regular season – starting Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) – before the four-round, 10-race postseason begins.
“This isn’t a guarantee,” Briscoe said. “This could be my only win. I hope not.
“It shows I’m capable of being at this level, but you still have to keep working.”