RIDGEWAY, Va. – Despite starting the season off ranked 33rd in points, Chase Briscoe and his No. 14 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang entry, fielded by Stewart-Haas Racing, have been making noise in incredible fashion.
After scoring a seventh at Phoenix, Briscoe has finishes of 15th or better in the past three races. More importantly, he tallied his first top-five of the year at the Bristol Dirt weekend.
On Sunday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway, the Mitchell, Indiana native had one of the most dominant cars in the 36-driver field. Namely, he was one of only two racers who led over 100 laps.
Starting from the fourth position, the 28-year-old racer placed fifth in Stage 1. By Stage 2, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year winner tallied a runner-up result.
Once Stage 3 was underway, Briscoe led the way and held the top spot for 71 consecutive laps. Although he lost the lead to Denny Hamlin on Lap 257, he kept himself in contention with a smart, patiently aggressive approach.
Then, a caution for a loose right rear tire from the No. 78 of Anthony Alfredo brought out a pivotal caution on Lap 304. This yellow flag period occurred during a round of green flag pit stops, prompting a bevy of contenders to take the wavearound to rejoin the top 11 who remained on the lead lap.
Briscoe was back in the lead with Kyle Larson restarting alongside him on the front row on Lap 313. Certainly, it appeared as if Briscoe would draw closer to winning his second career Cup race.
However, JJ Yeley’s Turn 3 accident on Lap 344 brought out the final caution of the race, prompting a plethora of pit strategies inside the final 46 laps.
In this case, Briscoe opted to pit with the majority of the lead lap contenders. With four drivers, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., electing to stay out for track position, Briscoe dropped from the lead to seventh on the Lap 355 restart.
From there, despite restarting inside the top-10, it was a struggle to climb back inside the top five running order.
Still, given the multitudes of pit strategies and changing track conditions, Briscoe tallied his second consecutive top-five result of the season.
Notably, Briscoe, who nursed a broken left middle finger from a dirt track race during the Bristol Dirt race weekend, pushed through the pain, continuing his climb in the Cup points standings.
“It would’ve been more of a statement if we won the race, obviously,” Briscoe said. “I thought, as a company, we had a really good day. All four cars were in contention. I felt like a Stewart-Haas car probably should’ve won the race.”
Although the Lap 344 caution and different pit strategies were wrinkles to Briscoe’s potential race winning efforts, it was about finding the positives as a driver, team and organization.
“We just couldn’t catch the breaks we needed there at the end, but, overall, a great day,” he said. “That’s something that, as a company, we needed to go and run up front. All four cars were really competitive.”
The recent competitive surge from Briscoe and the Stewart-Haas Racing camp is starting to show with the Hoosier State native climbing from 20th to 15th in the points rankings. As he lamented over the possibilities, he remains hopeful about his chances to return to the winner’s circle.
“I wish one of us would’ve won the race, but you’ll have that,” Briscoe said. “We’ll go on to next week and, hopefully, we can continue this speed and this momentum as a company.”