TALLADEGA, Ala. — Chase Briscoe endured a roundabout route to his third consecutive top-five finish in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway. There was the metaphorical ache of a Stage 1 spin on pit road that forced him to rally from two laps down. Then there was a more palpable pain, stemming from a surgically repaired finger fracture earlier in the week.
Briscoe drove home fourth in Sunday’s GEICO 500, picking his way through a pair of overtime finishes with his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. The result marked his best finish of the year, bettering the fifth-place efforts in the previous two weeks at Martinsville and Bristol’s dirt.
“Wild day. I made a huge mistake coming to pit road. We’re two laps down, and then we were one and was going to get the lucky dog at the end of Stage 2, and then (Joey) Logano had that speeding penalty and barely got us for the lucky dog,” Briscoe said, making reference to a bold move that Logano made to blend in with the pack and receive the free pass at the stage-break caution.
“It was a battle all day long — very similar to how we kind of were at the end of last year, just continuing to fight and keep doing everything we could to try to maximize our day. At the end, found ourselves up there and in the top five. I would have loved to have a little bit more, but if you told me we were going to finish fourth there — at any point of the race really, even there with 20 to go — we were so stuck in the back and couldn’t really do anything.”
Briscoe’s first pit stop of the day nearly wound up being disastrous. He headed to pit road for service in a coordinated group with fellow Ford drivers, but lost control at pit entry and slid to a stop. He avoided contact with the wall or other cars, but the car stalled out with a flat right-front tire, and Briscoe helplessly flailed as he tried to right it.
“I felt like I was gonna be a meme eventually or something,” Briscoe said. “But it was weird. Like I literally couldn’t move. I went from first gear to reverse, up to third gear just trying anything I could, and it was definitely just a helpless feeling. It was funny. I think the pit box that I was spinning out in, all their pit-crew guys had their phones out and were videoing it. It was kind of just like embarrassing. I was just sitting there doing circles in front of them. So yeah, it was a weird circumstance. Honestly, super lucky that we didn’t go three laps down there.”
By the time he wound up returning to the race, he was still two laps back of the lead pack in 37th place. He regained one lap at the Stage 1 intermission, then worked back onto the lead circuit when the yellow flew again on the 143rd of 196 laps.
Briscoe made the most of evasive action in both overtimes. He was in the vicinity when Kyle Larson and Ryan Preece made severe contact in a multicar crash in the first extra session, then scooted by when contact between Ryan Blaney and Bubba Wallace at the front of the pack ended the race in the second OT. He was on the fringes of the top 10 when the white flag emerged, but his nifty path along the top groove left his No. 14 Mustang unscathed.
Worse for wear was Briscoe’s wrapped-up left hand, braced after surgery six days earlier on his broken middle finger. The injury came during a dirt-track race April 6, but Briscoe didn’t miss time in the three Cup Series races since then as he remains on the mend.
Briscoe said hardware was inserted during the operation to assist the bone’s healing process, but his pain level spiked over the course of Sunday’s race. He plans to make adjustments before the next Cup Series event, scheduled for Sunday at Dover Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN, SiriusXM).
“Not good,” Briscoe said. “Yeah, it’s weird. The last two weeks I’ve had absolutely zero issues, and with the pins in there, it’s like anytime anything touches one of those pins, it just is excruciating pain. I mean, I was literally screaming in the car at some points because it was just, it hurt so bad. So in the past, I’ve kind of had two splints — one on top, one on bottom — and I think I just need to go to one on bottom now, because that one on top kind of hits that pin a lot.
“So yeah, I was not really worried about Dover or really any of the rest of the races coming up, but definitely a little more … not worried, but I guess I just need to be a lot more particular about what I do going into this week to make sure I get it as good as I possibly can, because it was definitely an issue today, and some of it, I don’t know if you just have more time to think here so you kind of notice it more, too, but it was definitely not fun today.”