Briscoe takes Daytona momentum into Atlanta

By Kyle Magda
March 4, 2017

HAMPTON, Ga.Chase Briscoe’s 2017 season got off to a wrecking start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

The defending ARCA Racing Series champ didn’t make any friends early on in the Daytona season opener, bump-drafting Noah Gragson on lap two that triggered a 12-truck wreck.

But Briscoe bounced back from the rookie mistake to score a third-place finish in his Truck debut for Brad Keselowki Racing while surviving a crash-filled race.

“As far as the racing, our teammate didn’t have much luck,” Briscoe said. “For us, it was a really good start to the season. Ending with a top-three is always good. Built really good momentum coming into this week and just try to carry that momentum into this weekend and get our first win of the year.”

According to Briscoe, the Trucks are completely different from the composite-bodied cars Briscoe ran in ARCA. The cars are more forgiving when a driver makes a mistake. With the aero-dynamics involved in the Truck Series, it’s not as easy to navigate the lapped machines in traffic.

“The Trucks are definitely a lot more aero-sensitive than the ARCA car,” Briscoe said about the differences. “The trucks move around a lot more than anytime the ARCA car did. It’s easier to run wide-open by myself but it’s a lot harder in traffic than the Truck. It’s going to be a hard balance. Atlanta’s going to be my first race, Daytona is totally different than anything we do all year long. I think we have a really good truck.”

Atlanta isn’t the same beast as Daytona. It’s going from one week bump-drafting nearly every lap to rim-riding the high side at the 1.54-mile Georgia track. And Briscoe being a standout Midwest dirt racer, he can change his lines to go faster on the worn-out surface.

“I just watched a lot of video,” Briscoe said. “I try to watch the past three or four races from here and a lot of on-board stuff. We’re really good friends with [Christopher] Bell so we’ll talk a little but honestly we’re competitors so he’s not going to tell me everything. I can rely on him and my crew chief’s been there, done that. It’s nice to have an entire team that knows what they’re doing so it’s been a big help.”

Tires, tires, tires mean everything at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It can decide the outcome of the race to the car with the freshest rubber. But, conserving tires is just as important. AMS is known to feature long-green flag runs while some drivers rocket to front. As the run goes on, other drivers  start dropping like a rock.

“This is the most I’ve noticed a lack of grip anywhere I’ve ran so far on pavement,” Briscoe said about Atlanta. “It’s really fun so far, really looking forward to the race because right there we had 20 laps on the tires and we were sliding around a bit. It’s definitely going into play into the dirt guys’ advantage. I think that’s one reason you notice [Christopher] Bell was really good here last year. Find out tomorrow how it actually is.”

Two seats opened up at BKR after both Daniel Hemric and Tyler Reddick moved on to the XFINITY Series. Road-course ringer Austin Cindric ran a few Truck events in 2016 before being announced as the driver of the No. 19 Ford F-150.

With Cindric piloting one truck, plans for the the second driver still weren’t announced. Briscoe showed up to the Homestead season finale wearing a BKR shirt and it was evident where the 22-year-old planned to drive for in 2017.

Daytona wasn’t the first race Briscoe and Cindric raced as teammates. The duo raced against each other in ARCA competing for Cunningham Motorsports and now finds themselves in the same spots moving up the racing ladder.

“We try to talk as much as we can but we just come from two totally different driving backgrounds. There’s a little bit of a barrier there just how we talk, obviously coming from dirt stuff and his road background. We try to bounce off each other as much as we can. It’s been a big help because Austin has a little bit of experience at least compared to me. It’s definitely been nice to have Austin.”

How many races will Briscoe win this season?
3 or more