Race Report: Chase Briscoe Wins 1st Cup Race in Phoenix
AVONDALE, ARIZONA — MARCH 13, 2022 -Chase Briscoe, driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing № 14 Mahindra Tractors Ford Mustang, wins the Ruoff Mortgage 500 at Phoenix Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. Briscoe, last year’s Rookie of the Year, powered to victory by .771-seconds over Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain and Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick. With the win, Chase Briscoe becomes the 200th different winner in the NASCAR Cup Series. After two consecutive wins by Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets in Fontana and Las Vegas, Ford was back in Victory Lane.
Two late-race restarts created even more pressure on the drivers, pit crews and crew chiefs facing the decision to stay out and hold track position or pit. And if they pit, do they take 4 tires or only 2- a strategy Hendrick Motorsports used last week in Las Vegas to get 3 of their cars off pit road first in the decisive final stop ahead of NASCAR overtime. However, Sunday’s pit strategy in Phoenix didn’t shuffle the field as much as the infamous “Dog Leg” of the Phoenix Raceway one-mile oval, sometimes putting cars 5 wide going into Turn 1. The unique track configuration played a role in the 14 lead changes among six drivers during the race. Fellow “young guns” Ross Chastain, driving the Trackhouse Racing № 1 Chevrolet Camaro and Tyler Reddick, driving the Richard Childress Racing № 8 Chevy, forced Briscoe three-wide on the final restart — all three drivers looking for their first Cup Series win, but Briscoe’s Ford rocketed away on the final lap for the win.
The Stewart Hass № 14 Ford led 101 laps, second only to pole-winner Ryan Blaney’s 144 laps led in his Team Penske № 12 Ford. “The second-to-last restart, I went to the apron and I don’t know if it bent, broke … it stopped vibrating like crazy and was just pulling to the right whenever I lifted. So I don’t know what happened to it, something in the steering system. I would love to look at it because my wheel was all bent out of shape and it was a mess. Luckily we didn’t go many more laps because I was just kind of hanging on” Blaney said after the race. While he earned his first Stage win of the season and looked to be a contender for the victory, Blaney lost ground on the final restart and finished P4.
“I thought we had a shot today, but it just didn’t play out,” Blaney said. “We seem to qualify great here, we always qualify really good. Seem to race pretty decent, but just never seem to put a whole one together to try to win the race. Hopefully one of these days it would be nice.”
Toyota Continues to Struggle
23XI Racing’s Kurt Busch had the best finish of the Toyotas on Sunday at P5 with his brother Kyle Busch finishing P7 after his team delivered a blistering final pit stop and Kyle drove his № 18 Joe Gibbs Racing DeWalt Toyota from P17 to finish P7 in the final 3 laps of the race. After four weeks of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Season, Ford wins at Daytona, Chevy wins at Fontana and Las Vegas, and Ford wins at Phoenix. While the Busch brothers had top 10 finishes, other Toyota drivers continued to struggle with Denny Hamlin finishing P13, Bubba Wallace finishing P22 with extra salty commentary about his car over the team radio. Christopher Bell finished a lap down at P26, and Martin Truex Jr finished P35 after hitting the wall hard on Lap 219 ending his day.
NASCAR On A Roll
With the success of The Clash at the Coliseum exhibition race back on February 6 and the first 4 weeks of the 2022 season, NASCAR is enjoying renewed fan support and TV ratings. Las Vegas was just short of a sellout last weekend and Sunday’s Ruoff Mortgage 500 at Pheonix Raceway sold all remaining tickets on race day. Track president Julie Giese announced the sellout to the crowd during driver introductions on Sunday. FOX TV reported a 2.33 rating with 3.991 million viewers for its coverage of the Ruoff Mortage 500, winning the weekend again as the most-watched US sporting event on TV.
Briscoe — 2021 Cup Series Rookie of the Year is a Fan Favorite
Flashing back to Championship Sunday on November 7, 2021, with no entourage or security detail, Chase Briscoe joined us for a Jeff Gluck / Bob Pockrass “Tweet Up” where fans and media (and sometimes drivers) who part of “NASCAR Twitter” gather on race day for a free form Q&A and unfiltered open discussion. It was such a picture of how NASCAR builds such a loyal fan base. Briscoe was just a guy in jeans answering questions, taking pictures with fans, and demonstrating such humility and appreciation for the fans who came to track early, and those of us in NASCAR media that don’t get invited to the fancy suites. For Chase, this is no different than what happens almost every weekend at dirt tracks all over America. Briscoe knows that world very well, as does a number other drivers who come from and/or still race Sprint Cars like Larson and Bell.
Post-Race Press Conference in the Media Center at Phoenix Raceway
Question: “Bob Francis, Go Full Throttle Racing News, Congratulations Chase. Have you talked to your wife?”
CHASE BRISCOE: “For like 20 seconds. It was super brief. I was on the phone with Tony. She was on FaceTime. There was a lot going on, obviously, it was when we got into Victory Lane and then there at the end.
She obviously isn’t here. We Face-Timed her and tried to take somewhat of a picture with me, her, and Brooks. Who knows if it turned out or not.
I wish that she was here. She was wanting to come literally last minute, and I talked her out of it because I was like, no, flying with the baby, flying commercial, last minute if it gets canceled or delayed, we’d be stuck here in Charlotte.
I saw my text. She said, I knew I should have came.
She’s going next week and Brooks is going next week, so hopefully we can go back to back. But, yeah, it would be cool call her and just get back home tonight, whatever time we get home, and see her and Brooks.”
Question: “The 14 back in Victory Lane, could you tell us a little bit about that conversation with Tony [Stewart].”
CHASE BRISCOE: “Yeah. He was just, first off, said congratulations. They actually won the Gator Nationals today in the drag racing team, so he was pretty excited. You could hear dragsters going off in the background.
I just told him thank you for believing in me and giving me an opportunity to drive that car. That car is obviously his, and he has a lot of passion and drive for that car and to take a chance on another guy, kind of like himself, a dirt sprint car. We grew up 45 minutes apart. My dad raced against Tony Stewart in sprint cars. I was literally a diehard Tony Stewart fan growing up and diehard 14 fan, so for me to add my name to the list of guys that have got the 14 car to Victory Lane is definitely special for me.
Looking back, when I was six, seven years old and wearing the Tony Stewart helmet and uniform, I never in a million years thought I would get the 14 car in Victory Lane in the Cup Series, and it was cool for him to call and hear how excited he was.”
Up next: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 from Atlanta Motor Speedway
It’s our first double-header weekend with the start of the F1 season and Week 5 of the NASCAR Cup 2022 season. We will have coverage of all the NASCAR and F1 action. Check back this week for the updated #GFTaiDriverRankings and our predictions for Atlanta.
All on our website https://gofullthrottle.net/ and real-time updates on our Twitter feed