FORT WORTH, Texas — When Chase Briscoe crossed the line fifth in Sunday’s AutoTrader EchoPark 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, it felt like a win to him.
Briscoe, who entered the Round of 12 opener four points below the cutline, seemed destined for a tough day. He qualified 30th and struggled mightily in the early going, and fortunately for him, several cautions prevented him from falling behind a lap. Briscoe finished 27th in Stage 1 and 25th in Stage 2.
Well below the Playoff cutline at that point, Briscoe knew it would take something dramatic to get back into contention. After Stage 2 concluded, inclement weather halted the race for nearly an hour, meaning the end of the race would drift into the night.
As the sun started to set, Briscoe’s car came alive. He gained some track position with pit strategy and drove through the field. With the help of cautions, primarily for a sequence of blown tires, Briscoe launched into the top 10.
The race finished on a 24-lap green flag run after an Aric Almirola spin, and Tyler Reddick won his third race of the season. Briscoe got up to fifth, which he was very satisfied with after how his day began.
“The first 90 percent of the race we were struggling. We couldn’t get the balance of the car right,” Briscoe said. “We would be too loose or too tight and could never find where we needed to be.
“After that red flag, I think the nighttime coming in kind of helped us a bit. With 80 to go, we were hoping to catch more cautions and make it on fuel and we were able to get our track position that way and it ended up working out. We did what we needed to do for our Rush Truck Centers Ford. We were not a fifth-place car. We weren’t even a 15th-place car. To steal some points like that is huge.”
Briscoe notched his fourth top five and fifth top 10 of the season. He originally maintained a four-point deficit in driver’s points, but after William Byron’s 25-point penalty for spinning Denny Hamlin under caution, Briscoe moved above the cutline.
Ahead lies Talladega and the Charlotte ROVAL, two of the more unpredictable tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. Briscoe has top fives in the Xfinity Series at both tracks, including a win at the ROVAL.
Sunday’s YellaWood 500 at Talladega is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET on USA Network.