By Cameron Richardson
4 Minute Read
AVONDALE, Ariz — Sometimes all you need to turn a slow start to the season around is a high-quality finish. That’s what both Tyler Reddick and Chase Briscoe were rewarded with following 317 miles under the desert sun on Sunday afternoon at Phoenix Raceway.
Reddick nabbed his first top-five finish of the season with a third-place run in his new Toyota ride, while Briscoe brought home his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford in seventh.
RELATED: Race results | At-track photos: Phoenix weekend
Entering the fourth Cup Series event of 2023, Reddick and Briscoe sat outside the top 30 in points after the trio of races to start the year were riddled with bad luck for both drivers. With the West Coast swing now in the books, the pair can look ahead to the upcoming weeks with positive momentum.
Reddick’s crew chief Billy Scott emphasized how important big points payouts are moving week-to-week.
“It’s two-fold and we talk about always when something goes wrong it’s kind of a snowball effect nowadays with the way metrics are used for the next week,” Scott told NASCAR.com. “Here at practice, we were one of the last ones to roll out of the garage and the track’s full when you get out there. Getting points, having good metrics, you know we go to Atlanta next week and it might rain out qualifying again and where you start and where you pick pits is solely based on basically how we did today.”
In the event a qualifying session is canceled, NASCAR sets the starting lineup per the rule book.
While Reddick’s podium result was a much-needed run for him, he said he was still frustrated in not grabbing the checkered flag.
“I’m honestly not even thinking about it yet. I’m still pissed off about that last restart and just not doing a better job,” Reddick said. “We were in position to do it. I’ve just got to get a little better at these [restart] launches. They’ve cost me a few times, even here so we’ll just keep working on it. It was great to have the speed that we did all day long. We’re gonna keep getting better. We’re gonna keep learning together as a team and yeah, wish I could have that one back for sure.”
At Auto Club Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Briscoe’s Ford showcased futile speed that landed him 20th and 28th, respectively.
However, Phoenix has meshed with Briscoe’s driving style seamlessly as the Hoosier has scored three consecutive top-10 finishes at the 1-mile Arizona track.
RACE REWIND: Best moments, highlights from Sunday
Starting in the latter half of the field Sunday, Briscoe said he had a car that could’ve run up front if given the opportunity.
“I think we, overall, had a pretty strong and solid day. Starting that far back in the pack, it just takes forever to get up there,” Briscoe said. “I thought my car was good enough. If you would’ve put it in the lead, I would’ve been fine staying there — but it was just a matter of getting up there.”
Briscoe’s crew chief Johnny Klausmeier knows that his driver can rally in difficult circumstances. The pair flashed their abilities during the 2022 postseason, reaching the Round of 8 despite only scoring the win in that year’s spring race at Phoenix and like last year’s spring edition, the desert served as an oasis for the No. 14 team.
“It’s a big relief and I think the biggest thing is it just makes you lose a little bit of confidence each week every time you don’t get that result you want,” Klausmeier told NASCAR.com. “It makes you question things that you know you maybe doing right but you’re questioning them just because you’re not getting the results that you need to get.
“This is a good baseline for us as a benchmark kind of for our team. We know that we can do this and we know we have to work on the aero tracks some and when you take the aero out of the equation, we have a couple of weeks coming up where I feel like the road courses we can get the momentum turned back around. To be in the hunt, that’s all you can ask for.”
The NASCAR circuit heads back out east for a trip to Atlanta next Sunday (3 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) before a stretch of the schedule that sees Circuit of The Americas and three short tracks in Richmond Raceway, Bristol Motor Speedway (Dirt) and Martinsville Speedway — all places where Reddick and Briscoe can thrive.