Before the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series season started, Chase Briscoe made a statement regarding his future.
“I’m going to have to win eight races to even be considered for a Cup ride,” said the driver of the No. 98 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing.
This year, he has made a very loud statement by winning not eight, but now nine trophies after another dominating win at Kansas Speedway on Saturday night. In doing so, he surpassed NXS legends Sam Ard and Jack Ingram’s mark for series regulars wins in one season.
With his name now etched in the record books for that achievement, he’s locked into the championship race at Phoenix Raceway. And with that, he now leaves room for three other drivers to chase him into the finale to see who hoists the hardware when the checkered flag flies.
Speaking of flying, Briscoe led 159 of the 200 laps and won both Stage 1 and Stage 2 at the 1.5-mile Kansas track. This from a driver who has maintained the same message all along about his future.
Fellow SHR driver Clint Bowyer announced his retirement from racing to become a broadcaster with FOX Sports next season. So, that leaves the No. 14 Cup car seat wide open for Briscoe to move up within the organization.
Or, does it?
“I talked to Tony (Stewart) and everybody at SHR this week and they said to focus on this week and then we will talk about it,” Briscoe said. “I think winning the race is certainly going to help that situation.
“We will go into next week and anytime you can bring a trophy back it helps the cause. We are staying hopeful though.”
Still hopeful he gets the promotion to Cup, despite winning nine NXS races, setting a record while doing it and now an odds-on-favorite to claim the championship.
This is part of the attraction fans and sponsors have come to like about the 25-year old from Mitchell, IN. Despite the success this year, and because he struggled for five years sleeping on couches and begging to volunteer at race shops just to be involved, he doesn’t want to assume or have anything handed to him.
He’s willing to do the work to earn his place behind the wheel. Even when asked if he is going to move to the highest level of stock car racing, Briscoe is taking nothing for granted.
“Honestly, I don’t know right now,” he said. “I think me doing what I did tonight will only help my cause. I don’t think it will hurt it by any means. If I can keep doing this the remainder of the playoffs, not that it will make their decision easier or harder, but I am only helping my situation anytime I go win a race.
“That is all I am focused on right now. I have asked them (SHR) as soon as Clint announced his deal. They said they are working on it, trying to figure something out and that I should just focus on the playoffs.
“I know they said we would circle back next week and obviously a win will help.”
As far how he feels about the championship which, based off his performance to this point, he is by all means favored to achieve that crown. Most drivers would be confident, maybe even a tad cocky, as they race towards that incredible goal.
Oh yeah, we’re talking about the humble and down-to-earth Briscoe here. In addition to his on-track success, he’s also been very successful keeping everything in perspective and not letting the cart get ahead of the horse.
“I don’t know,” he said about becoming the 2020 NXS Champion. “There are so many guys in this series that can win week in and week out. We have to do our deal. We have to go there and focus on the 98, nobody else.
“I would certainly say that if (Jason) Allgaier or one of those guys makes it to Phoenix, he is pretty unbelievable there. I think it is up in the air.
“Whoever the four guys are, they all deserve to be there and anybody can beat anybody on any given day. So, we have to go there and do our job.”
The team has already been working on the Ford they plan to use at Phoenix for weeks. The pressure may be down with the Kansas win for points, but that doesn’t mean the No. 98 team is going to ease around the next few weeks.
“I keep saying that every race is an audition to try to go to the next level or stay at the level you are,” Briscoe said. “For me, there are still things that I can do better and there are three races left to still win. I don’t think we treat it any different.
“Points wise, we don’t have to worry about points anymore. But, we will go there with the mentality to win and try to lead every lap. That is the mentality we have had all year long.”
So, with Briscoe keeping the humble approach going and avoiding any brash comments or attitude, there is one member of the household who doesn’t mind a voicing a little bravado.
After the race on Saturday, his wife, Marissa, shared her sentiments after the win. She did it with a short and pointed comment on Twitter.
“My husband is an absolute badass.”