The 20th and final race of the 2016 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season is set to take the green Friday night at Kansas Speedway. When the season began, there were a variety of new things to consider – new sponsors, new teams and new drivers. Heading into Daytona, Chase Briscoe was one of those new drivers and he had only raced a handful of pavement races up to that point. He was used to quarter-mile dirt tracks where he could slide a sprint car through the turns and see the checkered flag in a mere 25-30 laps. He had very limited exposure to speeds close to 200 mph, drafting on high banked superspeedways or enduring the physical and mental challenges of it all for 150-200 miles.
Well, let’s just say Chase is a quick study. He led the first practice at Daytona with a speed of 189.302 mph and brought his Cunningham Motorsports #77 across the line in a very impressive fourth place. In hindsight, that early success could have served as a shot across the bow of the competition as Chase would stay in the headlines all season. Since that weekend in early February, Chase and his team have achieved a very successful rookie season where he holds a 475 point lead over second place, Tom Hessert in the championship.
Earlier this week, we asked Chase a few questions leading up to this week’s season finale:
GT: As you reflect on your rookie season in ARCA having earned 6 poles and winning 5 races and the reality of the overall championship, what are your thoughts heading to Kansas?
Chase: “My thoughts leading up to Kansas don't really differ from anywhere else we went this season. I want to win and I don't see why we can't go there and win.”
GT: How much do you think your sprint car experience helped in learning how to drive a stock car and the variety of tracks on the ARCA schedule?
Chase: “I think growing up racing sprint cars had a lot to do with the learning curve I had. Not a lot of people realize it, but Daytona was only my sixth ever time racing on pavement. The sprint car got me used to having a lot of horsepower, it actually has more than the ARCA car and weighs 2,000 pounds less. With sprint cars the tracks (are) constantly changing and the same racetrack could be different each week, so I think that got me versatile for all the tracks. Also, sprint cars got me used to being ‘on the edge’ and used to the speed which you need when we go to these speedways.”
GT: Which race has had the most meaning to you this season and why?
Chase: “Probably Iowa, no matter what series I have raced I had not actually felt like I had won until I had won twice. Certain situations can lead to a win and you can luck into one or whatever, but when you win multiple times that means you are doing something right. So to win Winchester… then go and win Iowa and eventually winning four in a row was a big deal to me.”GT: Your Dad and Grandfather have been at many of the races this year. What role have they played in your career?
Chase: “Having my Dad at a lot of these races as well as my Grandpa is really cool because without those two guys I wouldn't even know what racing is. My Grandpa started in 1976 and then my dad raced up until 2008, so growing up that's all I knew and wanted to do. To be able to experience this success with them has really meant a lot.”
GT: What were your goals going into your rookie season with ARCA? Have you accomplished them?
Chase: “My crew chief, Chad, and I at the beginning of the season sat down and he told me, ‘If I don't win 10 races I need to consider this year a failure.’ At the time I thought he was absolutely crazy, but going into the final race of the year we honestly should have won that many, if not more. Not saying I'm disappointed with this season at all, but at the same time looking back we should have won a lot more races and certain circumstances kept us from doing that. It has been a really good season.”
GT: What’s one thing you like most about the ARCA Racing Series?
Chase: “One thing I love about ARCA is the people involved, whether it's the competitors, officials, fans, etc. everyone is just so nice and willing to accept you with open arms.”
GT: How do you feel the new ARCA/General Tire partnership has helped the series this season?
Chase: “The General Tire partnership with ARCA has been great, the notoriety General Tire has nationwide is great to attract fan bases. The social media presence General Tire has is one that is really cool in the world we live in today.”
GT: What are your racing plans for 2017?
Chase: “As of right now I don't have a single race planned for next year. I wish I had something because racing is what I want to do for a living. Hopefully something will come together soon.”
With the talent that Chase demonstrated this season, we expect he will soon get a call from a successful team in a different series who wants his driving services which will allow him to advance his career to the next level.
Tune-in to FS1 to watch the Kansas 150 LIVE this Friday, October 14. We’ll have our on-board camera riding along with Chase in his Big Tine Cunningham Motorsports #77 Ford as he officially captures the 2016 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Championship.