Chase Briscoe catches ‘Hail Mary’ to reach Round of 8


CONCORD, N.C. — Entering the 2022 season, Chase Briscoe probably wasn’t on many people’s radar to reach the Round of 8, let alone, make the Cup Series postseason.

Briscoe accomplished the latter early in the season with an eye-opening win at Phoenix Raceway. His path to the Round of 8 Sunday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course had just about the number of twists and turns that make up the 2.28-mile road course.

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While Christopher Bell threw the ‘Hail Mary’ and got the clutch victory in overtime to lift himself from the trenches beneath the cutline, Briscoe was the one catching the ‘Hail Mary’ to send the No. 14 team to the Round of 8.

“I feel happier than I ever have when I’ve won a race before truthfully,” Briscoe said after the Bank of America Roval 400. “I know what this team is capable of, especially in the next round.

“To have a one-in-eight chance to win a NASCAR [Cup Series] championship is an unbelievable feeling and why it feels bigger than winning a race.”

When the caution flag flew with five to go, all bets were off in how the points would play out when the checkered flag flew. Through a handful of cautions and restarts, getting spun in the closing laps and fighting tooth and nail to make up as many positions as possible, Briscoe wheeled himself two points in front of the elimination line over defending series champion Kyle Larson.

“I just knew I had to go. It was a tough spot for the non-playoff guys,” Briscoe said. “I put the No. 43 in a bad spot and myself in a bad spot and I was just shoving him because I had to get going knowing that every spot was going to make a difference. I shoved him out of the way and then it got the No. 3 by both of us. “Then I had the back straightaway left to do a ‘Hail Mary.’ I locked the rear tires up. I thought I was going over the curb and have to serve a stop-and-go. Somehow, the thing stuck. Definitely drove it in way further than I had all day knowing that every point was going to matter. Luckily, the ‘Hail Mary,’ we caught it and we’re able to move on. What a day.”

Briscoe’s crew chief Johnny Klausmeier said the goal for the team was to manage their points through the day as they entered Sunday’s elimination race 12 points below the Round of 8 cutoff.

Briscoe was able to chip away at his deficit with seventh- and eighth-place finishes in the first two stages to grab seven points to go add on to his finishing total. With Kyle Larson and Daniel Suárez tallying more stage points than Briscoe, the No. 14 team needed some luck to go their way if they were to find themselves in the Round of 8 when all 112 laps were complete.

That luck came in the final stage as both the No. 5 and No. 99 endured mechanical issues that hampered them, leaving them outside the top 30 on the final result sheet while Briscoe soared to a ninth-place finish.

“We’re ecstatic obviously,” Klausmeier told NASCAR.com. “We were floating around the plus-three mark just kinda doing everything we needed to do and then got wrecked by the No. 3 car. So it’s kinda the highest of highs and lowest of lows right there in that moment. We came and got tires on it and let him know what he needed to do to advance and with the No. 20 car winning, there were a couple of scenarios. Chase and everybody just rallied behind him there and he had a heck of a drive at the end.”

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As his first two years have gone at the Cup level, Briscoe’s had to fight to keep climbing up the ranks and making his name in NASCAR’s premier series. In just his sophomore season, Briscoe is carrying the banner, not only for this No. 14 team, but for all of Stewart-Haas Racing as he’s the lone competitor in the four-car stable that’s still championship-eligible.

“It shows the amount of grit that he has,” Klausmeier said. “He has scratched and clawed, and it’s no secret, just to get here and get this opportunity and he makes the most of every opportunity. That’s huge, it goes a long way and he’s got a lot of talent to back it up.”

The Round of 8 in the Cup Series playoffs opens with the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET, NBC, NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).