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Chase Briscoe wins Rookie of the Year; says plans for 2020 are not set

THE MODERATOR:  We will take questions for Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 98 Ford Performance Ford who is the NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year this season.

Chase, grade your season.  Rookie of the Year, that’s not something to hang your head about.  How can you carry this momentum into next year?

CHASE BRISCOE:  Yeah, I think if I had to read it on a 1 to 10 scale, I would say it was like a 6 1/2.  I felt like at the beginning of the year I kind of struggled to understand what I needed in these race cars, and truthfully how to drive them and the feel I was looking for.  I just struggled to find ?? the biggest thing was I couldn’t feel the right rear ever.  As the season went on, we kind of switched from trying to say do what Harvick ran the year before and what Cole was running and just try to build more of a setup to what I felt better about.

Iowa was really the first race that we decided to do that, and that was the race we won.  It seemed like from then on out we were a serious contender every week.  Felt like the second half of the year was a lot better than the first half of the year, but we definitely ?? looking back at these playoffs, especially, I felt like we could have realistically won three or four of the races, and weird stuff happens.  The Kansas deal, the Roval was one where I felt like I could have ran down Allmendinger, Dover I think we led the most laps and didn’t catch a caution, and then tonight just getting into the wall.

I think the end of the year was definitely better than the first part of the year, but overall we definitely have more to improve on and I can get way better as a driver I feel like.

Have you been told by Stewart?Haas Racing that you’ll be back in the 98 car for next year?

CHASE BRISCOE:  No, I have not yet.  I know they’re still working on trying to find funding to make it happen, but as of right now I don’t have anything.

Obviously I was wanting to win the race tonight.  I feel like if I did that, it would have made everything a lot easier.  But I felt like we showed speed, and I feel like if we do get to go back next year, I feel like we could be serious championship contenders, and hopefully they can and we can work together and try to figure something out.  But yeah, right now they’re still working on it.

Are you optimistic?

CHASE BRISCOE:  I think it’s day by day right now.  I think one day is a lot better looking than the other.  But I feel like I’ve proved enough this year that if they want me bad enough, they’re going to find a way to make it happen.  So I’ve just got to go out there, and I felt like the second half of the year I proved that I deserved to be here, and hopefully I showed enough in their eyes.

Chase, if you had gotten a caution there, do you think you had something for the win?  Because that was an impressive rebound after getting the flat tire.

CHASE BRISCOE:  Yeah, I felt like honestly when the green flag pit stop came, I came out right behind Allgaier and Gragson, and I think I lost three and a half seconds to Reddick just trying to race those guys.  If you take that away, I think towards the last probably 10, 20 laps, I knew ?? I think I was like eight seconds back.  I knew I wasn’t going to catch them, so I tried to just save my stuff.  I think if I could have got around Allgaier and Noah quicker, then I could have definitely potentially reeled them in.

A caution I felt like would’ve for sure benefitted me, but it would have hurt the 00.  They were out of tires because of that loose wheel.  So he would have ran dead last because he would have had no tires left.  I was definitely wanting a caution, but for the big picture for them, I was hoping that we didn’t get a caution.

It was weird, I felt like our car was really good, not necessarily at the beginning of the run, but as soon as it moved all the way to the wall about 15 laps in, I felt like that’s when I started getting really good.  It just depended on when the caution would’ve came, if I would have had anything for him, and obviously the pit stop.

Chase, you and Reddick both come from dirt backgrounds.  How much does that help you to ride the rim here?  We’ve seen Larson do it.  It just seems like it’s part of your ?? part of the tools that you guys have accumulated over the years.

CHASE BRISCOE:  Yeah, I think I really don’t know.  Obviously this place is really slick.  You’re sliding around.  But it sounds weird, I feel like a lot of guys that grow up racing pavement, they’re obviously not used to running the wall or the cushion or anything, and when you get that close to the wall, the buffer of air feels like a cushion in a way.

But I think the biggest thing is when you’re running the wall, it’s all about how high you enter, and the closer you can get to hitting it on entry, the faster you’re going to go.  And I think a lot of guys just struggle to have the confidence to drive in right on the wall, and you almost essentially try to hit it and then eventually it catches you.

I think just a couple variations with how slick it is I feel like helps dirt guys just because we’re used to throttle control here, and you’re kind of always on the edge, and then it felt like I was running a cushion in a dirt car.  If you get out a little bit too far with your back in, you just try to drive it to the wall to straighten you back out and vice versa.

I think that’s a lot of it, just we’re used to running on the wall.  We’re used to running a cushion, and I think the biggest thing is just ?? I don’t want to say we don’t have any fear just because of that, but I feel like, truthfully, a lot of the guys struggle to have the confidence to drive on the wall, where we’re just kind of used to it.

You said there were a lot of things that you felt like you guys could have done better this year.  What do you hope to improve on should you get the opportunity to be back in 2020?

CHASE BRISCOE:  I think just the one thing we’ve got to do better, we did a lot better job at the end of the year, but at the beginning of the year it was just practicing good and starting the race good.  We kind of struggled the first two stages, and by the end we were always right there, but we kind of struggled the first two stages and just unloading.

I think a lot of that comes from just me having more confidence in what I’m doing and kind of knowing the feel of what to expect.  So I think that’ll get better, but ?? and then the other thing is just executing at the end of races, not making mistakes.  Obviously some of the stuff was kind of out of our control this year, but perfect example, tonight, felt like I was probably the best car on the fence, and I get by Cole for third, and that was my first lap with pretty clean air.  So I tried driving in just a little bit farther, and I got in the wall and cost to where we had to go all the way to the back and try to fight back.

Just limiting mistakes, trying to execute at the end of these races when we’re in position.  That would probably be the main thing.  And then I got to get way better at green flag pit stops.  I don’t have a ton of experience in general doing it.  This week we didn’t even have an opportunity to practice it because of how short practice was.

Just little things like that, I feel like I’m definitely getting beat at right now.  I feel like my restarts are good and battling guys.  I feel a lot better about side drafting and everything.  It’s just green flag pit stops and little things like that that can lose you a race I feel like I really struggle with.

I know you’re still working on 2020 on the stock car side, but you did have a little bit of good news this week on social.  Talk about the sponsor deal you’ve got coming for December and January with the midget.

CHASE BRISCOE:  Yeah, really excited about that.  Obviously if anybody watched the Eldora truck race, we had DIAEDGE CNC tooling parts on the car.  I was talking to those guys.  They’re based out of Mooresville, North Carolina.  They make a CNC cutting tool.  First we just started talking about, hey, could you maybe make me some titanium parts from my Chili Bowl car?  And, absolutely, we can do that, no problem.  What about doing some money stuff, too, to help you get along?

So we started talking, and honestly I think within two weeks of first starting the conversation they had struck up a deal to do the Gateway dirt race and the Chili Bowl.

So really excited to do that.  We’re actually going to do a photo shoot, a video shoot with the car next Monday, then go test out at Millbridge.  Excited to see how it is.  Last year I didn’t run my own stuff, and this year I’m going back to running my own stuff.  I feel like I’ve made it a lot better since ?? you know, we’ve made the Chili Bowl on my own stuff, but haven’t ran great in the main race.  So hopefully now with all our of improvements we can run a lot better.

I was just wondering, over this past year in particular, how comfortable do you feel now as a driver in asphalt stock cars that you definitely could see yourself having an extended career?

CHASE BRISCOE:  Yeah, I think I finally feel like I’m to the point where I have experience.  At the beginning of this year I kept saying how Cole had more Xfinity starts than I did, even pavement starts.  I feel like now after running a full season, I finally have to where I can at least say I’ve been to every racetrack, where going into this year I hadn’t even done that.

I feel like I’ve proved myself enough, and in the short time I’ve been here to have four wins, it’s not where I want to be, but it’s better than no wins.  So I feel like I’ve proven I can do it in the right equipment.  So yeah, I feel like I’ll be here in some capacity.  I mean, I definitely want to do it in the best top?notch race cars I can be in, just because I do it to win.  Obviously I’ve got to make a living, but I do it to win first and foremost.

But I do feel like I can always fall back and do other things, but my main priority is being in race?winning equipment.

Are you ready to get married now?

CHASE BRISCOE:  Yeah, it’s two weeks away, so it’s definitely coming up quick.  It seems like just yesterday when I obviously proposed.  It’ll definitely be here before you know it.  We’ve got the banquet first, so got to get all dressed up for that, and then the following weekend go get married.

What does it mean to have Marissa, her support?

CHASE BRISCOE:  Yeah, it’s huge.  Obviously I’ve never been in a position where I’ve had that, and to now ?? perfect example is last week and even the Kansas deal, I’m frustrated, and I get to go home and kind of vent to her, and she’s there to obviously try to turn it to positives.  So it’s definitely nice to have that, and I’m sure there’s going to be many more frustrations coming from the racetrack for her to deal with, but yeah, it’s really good that I’ve been able to have that.

She’s awesome.  It’s definitely been a life?changing thing for me to meet her.

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