What do Chase Briscoe and Kyle Jergensen have in common? They both recorded first victories in a major event in the desert.
A day after Jergensen celebrated his maiden Mint 400 in Nevada, Briscoe was doing the same for NASCAR Cup Series win #1 at Phoenix Raceway. An overtime restart placed him in a three-way battle with Tyler Reddick and Ross Chastain, both of whom were also seeking their first wins, with Briscoe ultimately holding them off.
Briscoe started sixth while fellow Ford driver Ryan Blaney won the pole. It was a relatively clean stage with the only yellow flags coming on laps 27 (a mandated competition caution) and 41 (debris). William Byron took the lead for the latter’s ensuing restart and the eventual stage win ahead of Briscoe, Chase Elliott, Reddick, Alex Bowman, Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, and Austin Dillon.
Bell’s race took a turn when he spun on lap 120 for Stage #2’s only caution. Blaney dominated the segment as he led all but ten laps including the final one to win. Elliott, who led said ten circuits, was second followed by Harvick, Byron, Larson, Reddick, Chastain, Briscoe, Dillon, and Logano.
Tyre degradation resulted in the first of three incidents in the final stage when Martin Truex Jr.‘s right-front tyre went down and caused him to slam into the turn two wall. He explained shortly after that the car had been “getting really loose all day on the longer runs. I was just out there trying to take care of it, and we gained a few spots on the restart and I was just trying to take care of the rear tires. Coming off of turn two there, I’m kind of neutral free, and then all of a sudden, it shot straight into the fence. I cut a right front down running up there in the glue or something.”
Briscoe took the lead from Blaney on the following restart, and appeared poised to pull away if not for a pair of Chevrolet drivers having incidents beginning with Erik Jones‘ wreck on lap 287; interestingly, Jones was also the victim of a late accident a week prior in Las Vegas. Elliott, who chased down Briscoe before the Jones caution, fell back and spun with nine laps remaining to set up a three-lap dash to the finish.
Briscoe and Reddick occupied the front row for the restart. Despite Reddick and Chastain’s efforts, Briscoe kept his advantage for all three laps to win for the first time in NASCAR’s top series. He is the thirty-fifth driver to win in all three national series, the 200th different Cup race winner, and the first ARCA Menards Series champion to win a Cup points race since Chris Buescher at Pocono 2016.
“I knew that as long as I drove in there deeper than everybody else, I probably was going to be okay,” Briscoe said in his post-race press conference. “Those two other guys, they were giving everything they had too. Thankfully, Ross left me a lane. He didn’t have to do that. I thought I was going to plug the fence and be done. But I was committed at that point. I was kind of blown away that it stuck as well as it did and then that he even left me a lane because he was all but clear.”
As with any first-time winner, Briscoe’s triumph was well received by the racing world. Anand Mahindra, the CEO of prominent Indian agricultural machinery manufacturer Mahindra Group and Briscoe’s sponsor, posted a series of tweets praising him and the “triumphant sea of red” in reference to his livery. Briscoe shared a photo of him with the trophy on Reddit, where he is a prominent user, that quickly became one of /r/NASCAR’s most upvoted submissions of all time.
“I never thought I would win a single Truck race, let along a Cup race,” added Briscoe. “To be the 200th winner at that… Some incredible guys on that list. To be one of 200, it’s humbling, it’s unbelievable.
“Seven years ago, I was literally two days away from giving up racing, at least on the pavement side. Briggs and Beth Cunningham called me and asked me if I wanted to test their ARCA car. That turned into a race, then a full season, Ford taking a chance on me.
“There were many times along the way my career could have been over, even in the last four or five. To now be a winner in the Cup Series is unbelievable. To be one of forty guys week in, week out is special. To say you were the best guy that day. These guys are incredible race car drivers. To be on the race track with them is humbling, and to beat them is definitely humbling.”
Chastain and Reddick settled for second and third, respectively, with Blaney fourth. The top four all previously raced for Brad Keselowski‘s now defunct team in the Camping World Truck Series during the early stages of their national series careers. Keselowski, who finished twenty-third, tweeted it was “[n]ot the day we wanted for @RFK6Team (RFK Racing) but this is something to be proud of…”
|1||6||14||Chase Briscoe||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||312||Running|
|2||17||1||Ross Chastain||Trackhouse Racing Team||Chevrolet||312||Running|
|3||12||8||Tyler Reddick||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||312||Running|
|4||1||12||Ryan Blaney||Team Penske||Ford||312||Running|
|5||15||45||Kurt Busch||23XI Racing||Toyota||312||Running|
|6||16||4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||312||Running|
|7||11||18||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||312||Running|
|8||10||22||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Ford||312||Running|
|9||23||99||Daniel Suárez||Trackhouse Racing Team||Chevrolet||312||Running|
|10||26||17||Chris Buescher||RFK Racing||Ford||312||Running|
|11||19||9||Chase Elliott||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||312||Running|
|12||5||10||Aric Almirola||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||312||Running|
|13||2||11||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||312||Running|
|14||9||48||Alex Bowman||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||312||Running|
|15||21||42||Ty Dillon||Petty GMS Motorsports||Chevrolet||312||Running|
|16||25||41||Cole Custer||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||312||Running|
|17||28||31||Justin Haley||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||312||Running|
|18||3||24||William Byron||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||312||Running|
|19||33||38||Todd Gilliland||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||312||Running|
|20||29||16||A.J. Allmendinger||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||312||Running|
|21||13||3||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||311||Accident|
|22||27||23||Bubba Wallace||23XI Racing||Toyota||311||Running|
|23||18||6||Brad Keselowski||RFK Racing||Ford||311||Running|
|24||8||2||Austin Cindric||Team Penske||Ford||311||Running|
|25||14||43||Erik Jones||Petty GMS Motorsports||Chevrolet||311||Running|
|26||4||20||Christopher Bell||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||310||Running|
|27||22||34||Michael McDowell||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||310||Running|
|28||36||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet||310||Running|
|29||24||21||Harrison Burton||Wood Brothers Racing||Ford||309||Running|
|30||31||77||Landon Cassill*||Spire Motorsports||Chevrolet||308||Running|
|31||32||51||Cody Ware||Rick Ware Racing||Ford||307||Running|
|32||35||15||Garrett Smithley||Rick Ware Racing||Ford||305||Running|
|33||34||78||B.J. McLeod||Live Fast Motorsports||Ford||304||Running|
|34||7||5||Kyle Larson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||239||Engine|
|35||20||19||Martin Truex Jr.||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||219||Accident|
|36||30||7||Corey LaJoie||Spire Motorsports||Chevrolet||45||Accident|
* – Ineligible for Cup points