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INDIANAPOLIS, IN - AUGUST 15: Chase Briscoe, #14 Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang HighPoint.com/Ford Performance Racing School stands on pit lane before the start of qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on August 15, 2021, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway Indiana. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - AUGUST 15: Chase Briscoe, #14 Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang HighPoint.com/Ford Performance Racing School stands on pit lane before the start of qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on August 15, 2021, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway Indiana. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Chase Briscoe Rookie of the Year Transcript

Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 14 Ford Racing Performance Racing School Ford Mustang, was named the Sunoco Rookie of the Year for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season.  That completed a sweep of sorts as Briscoe also won ROY in the NASCAR Camping World Truck and NASCAR XFINITY Series as well.  He was part of a Q&A session on Monday where he discussed the honor.

CHASE BRISCOE, No. 14 Ford Performance Racing School Ford Mustang — THOUGHTS ON WINNING ROOKIE OF THE YEAR.  “It’s super special.  I wish that there was a lot more guys going for it this year.  There were only two of us, but it’s still special to win it.  For me, I think I put something out after the race, where I never in a million years thought I would get to run one Truck Series race let alone win the Rookie of the Year now in all three.  It’s super humbling.  It’s super special to be able to be one of the few guys that have won it in all three is really special as well.  I’m glad that the first year is over.  There was definitely a lot of growing pains and things to learn, but hopefully this is just the first of many years in the Cup Series and something that I can continue to do.”

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE TO YOU IN CUP?  “The biggest thing is just how competitive it is.  You hear all the time how tough the Cup Series is and, for me, that was very real, just how good everybody is and if you think about it, everybody at the Cup level from first place to really the top 30 has won at every level they’ve been in and have been guys that have won their entire career.  It’s just a really competitive series.  I feel like the racing for 20th place in the Cup Series is some of the hardest racing you’ll do anywhere in the world, so, for me, that was the biggest thing is just how perfect you have to be.  There’s a rare group of guys, I’d say only four or five guys week in and week out that can have penalties, have things go wrong in the race, lose all their track position and still drive back to the front.  Outside of that, you have to do everything perfect to have a shot to even get in the top 10 and get that track position.  It’s so easy to lose it, so that was the biggest thing I would say I learned this year is just how competitive it is and how perfect you have to be to get that track position and have those good finishes because you have to do everything right, whether it’s the strategy of the race, doing things right on the racetrack, pit road, restarts, all those things you have to be 100 percent or otherwise you’re gonna be 25th.  In the Xfinity Series and the Truck Series you were able to make mistakes on pit road or not have the best restart and you would normally still recover from it and have a chance to win, where in the Cup Series you just can’t do those things.”

WAS THERE ONE THING YOU AS A DRIVER HAD TO LEARN OR WAS SPECIFICALLY CHALLENGING FOR YOU?  “I think just what I was saying, just how perfect you have to be to even have a chance to run somewhat up front.  You could do everything perfect and there are still days where you don’t even crack the top 15, and I think that, for me, was the hardest thing to kind of get used to is just how competitive it is.  It is very, very car dependent in the Cup Series at the same time.  If you’re not in one of those cars that have extremely good speed that day, it’s hard to make anything out of it just because everybody is so good.  So, I think that was the biggest thing that I learned is just it takes everything going right.  The preparation at the shop, at the racetrack, pit road, restarts, me being on the right part of the racetrack at the right time — all those things go into it.  It’s hard to be a guy that can win races in the Cup Series, for sure.”

WAS THE SOCIAL MEDIA EXCHANGE WITH DENNY UNCOMFORTABLE WITH YOU?  WHERE DOES THAT STAND NOW?  “I’m definitely kind of on the easygoing and laid back all the time, pretty quiet.  I like to have a good time though at the same time and I just saw a joke there that was kind of too easy not to take, so I did it.  But, I don’t have anything wrong with Denny.  I haven’t really the whole time.  He gets paid the same way I do, to get the best finish for his car as he can just like I’m paid to get the best finish for my car.  We may have different opinions on some things, but I wasn’t mad after the Indy deal because I even told him that if I was in your situation I would have done the same thing.  I would have ran you wide into turn one.  That’s the best opportunity to win the race.  I don’t have anything with Denny.  I saw a joke there when he was talking about who does he think he is and I just thought it would be too easy not to say the 10,000 comment.”

HOW ARE YOU DOING AS A DAD?  WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE?  “It’s been incredible.  It’s been an amazing time.  You never know what it’s gonna be like until you have that happen.  He’s almost two months old already and I would say that’s the biggest thing now being a parent.  There are two things.  One, your phone gets filled up with pictures way quicker and then secondly just how fast time goes.  It’s incredible to have him here for a month-and-a-half it seems like just last weekend he was born, and just how quick that time goes.  I remember my parents and other people always telling me that it’ll happen in the blink of an eye and it’s so true, so I think, for me, that’s kind of been the biggest takeaway.  Outside of that, it’s been great.  I feel like definitely he has my temperament.  He’s super laid back.  He barely ever cries.  People all the time are like, ‘Man, we wouldn’t even know he’s here if you didn’t tell us that he was here,’ just because he never cries or never gets upset.  The last couple of nights he’s been sleeping all the way through the night, so he’s pretty laid back and chill, so I’m glad that he got that, I guess, from me.  It’s been great so far and obviously excited to continue to watch him grow.”

HOW MUCH WILL THIS AWARD HELP YOU WITH SPONSORSHIP?  “It can’t hurt.  I think anytime you’re going to sell a new sponsor, a new partnership, you’re always looking to kind of have a resume in a sense of things you’ve been able to do, whether it be winning races or winning awards like rookie of the year or one thing that we still to this day use as the most popular driver thing from the Truck Series.  Things like that go a long way, I think, when you’re trying to convince somebody to come on board.  It definitely can’t hurt.  Anytime you’re winning anything, whether it’s an award like that or a race or anything people want people that are winning things.  It doesn’t hurt at all and time will tell if it helps us at all right now, but I feel like it’s definitely something that’s nice to have.”

HOW COOL IS IT WHEN SPONSORS SEND YOU BABY STUFF?  “It’s super cool.  That’s the one thing I’m very, very blessed and fortunate.  All of my sponsors are people that I consider people family — super close to me — whether it be Huffy or High Point or Ford or Ford Racing School — any of them.  They’re all really close to me an personal friends of mine and we feel like we’re all family.  Ford just sent us a couple outfits and a blanket with an old Ford pickup truck on it with his name on it.  Huffy sent us a bicycle that was all customized with the 14 and said Little Briscoe on it.  There’s a lot of cool things that people have sent even outside of sponsors, but sponsors definitely have been really cool to see all of the stuff they’ve kind of gotten creative with to send to Brooks and I know we definitely appreciate it.”

HOW WERE YOU THINKING ABOUT BROOKS WHEN HUFFY HAD YOU DO THAT BIKE RIDE AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD WITH THE KIDS?  “Yeah, I was thinking how it’s gonna be pretty crazy how soon he’ll be that age to be riding a bike and hopefully riding a Huffy.  It’s definitely crazy, like I said earlier, how fast this last month-and-a-half has gone.  It’ll be in no-time he’ll be three and four years old and running around and starting to have his own personality and doing things that he likes.  I’m sure he’ll be brought up around racing and a lot of my first racing experiences was riding my Huffy bicycle around the driveway, so who knows, he’s got a Huffy now at the house and maybe he’ll do the same.”

WHAT VALUES DID YOUR FATHER INSTILL IN YOU THAT YOU HOPE TO PASS DOWN?  “I think just treating people the way they want to be treated.  That’s something I’ve always tried to do and give everybody the time of day and talk to them and actually have a personal conversation with them.  That’s something that I feel like my dad was always really good at was making people feel like he cared and he did care, and that’s something I’ve always tried to do as well.  I want Brooks to carry that on.  My dad, I remember, Fox did a thing there at the end of their Indy weekend about how people don’t remember Chase as a race car driver, they talk about how Chase is as a person and I hope it’s the same for Brooks.  I want people to talk to me about how, I don’t know if he’s gonna race or not, but if he does or he plays baseball I don’t want them to talk about how good he is at something, I want them to talk about how good he is of a kid or as a person.  So, just being able to instill all those qualities in him.  Obviously, it comes from parenting and that’s something me and Marissa are obviously new at, so we’re gonna have to figure that out together, but I feel like as long as we stay true to ourselves and try to show him the way that we were brought up, hopefully that will carry over to him.”

HOW MUCH HAS YOUR FAITH CARRIED YOU THROUGH EVERYTHING?  “It’s been everything.  Whether it’s good or bad times that it’s easy to forget about your faith, and I honestly feel like it’s easier to do it in the good times, but it’s important, I feel like, to stay thankful and stay appreciative.  Obviously, in the hard times and the down times it’s easy to look to Him, and that’s something that we’ve tried to do, and we all do it, I feel like, there are times where you fail and times where you do it really well.  For me, just trying to stay consistent, whether it is in the good times or the bad times it’s been really important.  Obviously, we’ve had good times and we’ve also had bad times and His timing is what’s gonna work out and that’s hard, I think, as a human being to understand his timing sometimes, and you might now always understand it or think that’s what’s right or wrong, but at the end of the day He’s only gonna put on your shoulders what you can handle.  I feel like faith has been a huge part of not only my life, but my career as well.  There are many a times I thought I was done and just prayed.  Open the door if you want it to be open and if it’s closed, it’ll be closed and I’m fine with not racing or whatever you think I need to be doing, just show me.  And every time it’s worked out where I get a sponsor at the last minute or a ride opens up at the last minute, so I feel like I’m doing what I was supposed to be doing and trying to let that be my testimony and show other people to Him.”

WHAT KIND OF ASSURANCES HAVE YOU GOTTEN FROM SHR THAT 2022 WILL BE BETTER?  “To me, I agree that if Kevin is not winning it’s hard to expect a rookie to come in and, for me, that’s kind of what I set as my benchmark is just try to — I don’t think anybody here at the company was expecting me to out run Kevin every week, so if I could try to be the second-best car as consistently as possible, that’s what I tried to do.  I was looking at stats the other day — somebody posted them on Reddit — and I think we were consistently the second-best car, so just trying to do things like that.  On the performance side, it wasn’t the year that any of us hoped for or even expected.  I know that we’re trying to turn that around and I heard you say what direction are we going in, I don’t know if anybody knows what the right direction is with this car yet, but I will say that I feel like so far how the Next Gen tests have gone, I feel like we’ve been really good on speed.  You never know what guys are showing or what guys aren’t showing, but I do feel like we’re at a good place right now.  I guess we’ll know more this Wednesday and Thursday when we go to test, so hopefully we’re continuing to be fast, but I do feel like we’ve been really good from a speed standpoint so far, but it’s hard to say what’s gonna happen.  Nobody knows what this car is gonna be like or what it’s gonna drive like 100 percent.  Whatever team figures it out is gonna have a huge advantage for a while, I think.  Hopefully, we’re that team and we’ve definitely been putting a lot of time into this car and trying to figure out what it likes, so hopefully we can be that team that finds it first.”

ANY CHANGES TO YOUR TEAM?  “Yeah, we’re definitely looking for a spotter right now.  We’re talking to a couple different people.  Our spotter this past year did a really good job and we’re just trying to make a change to see what it does to our race team.  So, we’re definitely talking to a few different spotters and we’ll see what happens.  We’re in the market, I guess.”

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE OUT OF THIS TEST AT CHARLOTTE?  “For me, I just want to see what it drives like on an oval.  I felt like it did a lot of things really, really well at the road course or at the Roval.  There are some things that definitely still need work on, but it definitely drives really, really good on a road course compared to what we currently have.  I’m curious what it’s gonna drive like on an oval.  I’m not gonna lie.  I am nervous to kind of see what it drives like just because it is gonna be totally different from what we’ve ran in the past, but that’s part of it.  You’ve got to adapt and figure it out and I’m excited for that part of it, so I don’t know what to expect.  I’m going in open-minded.  I’m one of those guys, kind of like Larson.  I don’t know anything about the car per se.  I don’ t understand the setup side of it.  I just go in there and drive it and I’ll tell you what I think.  I am looking forward to it this week and hopefully it fits my driving style.  It’s gonna fit somebody’s driving style more than others, so hopefully it leans more towards my direction.  Outside of driving, I would like to hopefully get around some other cars and maybe just see what it does in dirty air just because it’s obviously gonna be something that we’re gonna have to figure out.  Outside of those two things, I’m going in pretty wide-open and just seeing what happens.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL WITH THE STEERING BOX?  “I had some issues at the Roval, nothing that you couldn’t drive through.  I don’t know if I’d want to run a whole race like that, but for a test I felt like it was OK to do.  On the oval, I don’t know what that’s gonna do.  Hopefully, it’s fixed.  I know there was a test the other week and it sounded like a lot of the issues did get fixed, so until we go and really run them for a long time and do durability testing it’s gonna be really hard to say what the issue is or how to fix it.  Hopefully, we can run a lot of laps.  Hopefully, there are no issues, but, if there is, it’s nothing that’s too catastrophic.  Hopefully, it’s something that happens you can keep the car out of the wall and stuff like that.  I’m curious to see what happens on the steering.  From a driver’s standpoint, the steering and the pedals are the two most important things as far as our comfort goes, so I would say all of us are kind of hesitant to have a different feeling of steering or pedals and that’s something we’re gonna have to figure out and get used to.  So there are gonna be some bugs to be worked out, but I will say I feel like they’ve definitely made it better from what I’ve been told over the last couple times, so hopefully we’ll have no issues this week.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL YOU’VE EVOLVED AS A DRIVER?  “I feel like I’ve learned a lot.  I feel like I’ve learned to minimize mistakes.  I still made too many mistakes, but I do feel like I’ve understood a lot more how to put a race together and there are times to maybe try to go for a spot or maybe not go for a spot and just save your car.  That’s the one thing in the Cup Series that was the biggest thing for me is in the past in the Xfinity Series you could hit the wall or you could get into another guy a little bit and it didn’t affect your car at all, where on the Cup side that was one thing I really struggled with early in the year at Homestead, which I feel is one of my better tracks.  I wasn’t even comfortable running the wall like I felt like I needed to because I was afraid to get into it, and until 10-15 to go I finally started running hard and we were one of the best cars on the track, but just knowing when to be able to push and how to save your car and now going to this new car I don’t know how much of that is gonna carry over, but still just doing those little things like I was saying earlier is what I feel like I’ve kind of evolved and learned the most about and trying to minimize all of those little things at the beginning of the year.  On pit road, I was really, really bad as far as the rolling speed on pit road and getting into my box and out of my box.  At Phoenix, I want to say my guys told me we were the second-best on pit road from that standpoint, but just trying to do all of those things better was something I had to do because every little thing matters in the Cup Series.  In the past, not that it didn’t matter, it just didn’t make as big of a difference.”

DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS FROM THE PAST SEASON?  “No, if anything I would say I wish I would have stood my ground more.  I felt like I got pushed around a lot, especially  — there’s two different types of racing going on.  When you get up towards the front — the top five to 10 guys — the racing is honestly is more clean and guys give-and-take a lot more.  You get back around 20th and it’s so cut throat.  Guys just take advantage of every little thing you do and I felt like I let guys kind of run over me a lot and not stick up for myself.  I felt like I did that so much at the beginning of the year and towards the end of the year they just felt that they could get away with it.  So, I wish I would have maybe stood my ground a little bit more at the beginning of the year and just showed I wasn’t gonna let them do that and just raced guys harder.  I felt like that was honestly one of my biggest things in the beginning of the year is I raced too clean and gave guys too much room, where in the Cup Series you have to take every inch you can.  Off on corner entry, at a place like Martinsville for example, they’re gonna give you a half-a-foot or a foot on corner entry, you’ve got to take that and really try to maximize the corner for yourself instead of trying to help them out.  So, at the end of the year, I felt like I did a little better job of that, but I wish at the beginning of the year instead of just trying to stay clean and out of trouble, not racing guys dirty, but just taking every little inch they’ll give you, I feel like, would have been something that would have benefitted me at the beginning of the year.”

— Ford Performance —