Before he begins his rookie season in the NASCAR Cup Series with Stewart-Haas Racing, Chase Briscoe has his sights set on the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, where he will join a number of NASCAR drivers in the event.
A victory with a new car last month at Millbridge Speedway in Salisbury, North Carolina is giving Briscoe some confidence going to Tulsa, Oklahoma, as he looks to lock into the show for the second time in his career. Briscoe made the Chili Bowl A-Main in 2017 and also has three preliminary night top-10 finishes.
"So glad that we were able to run that race and obviously kind of build that notebook and even while we were testing, we had motor issues," Briscoe said on MRN’s "NASCAR Live." "So, if we would have just went to Chili Bowl, who knows, we may have that motor issue at the Chili Bowl and we would have been done for the week. So glad we went obviously and got to kind of shake the car down.
"Been fortunate to make it a least once and the last two years to miss it by one and is definitely tough. But hopefully this year we can do a little bit better and I feel really confident going into it."
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Briscoe edged 2020 Chili Bowl champion Kyle Larson, who will race for Hendrick Motorsports in 2021, in the first of two features of the DiaEdge Carolina Midget Showdown at Millbridge. Larson won the second feature to take the overall event title with Briscoe finishing third in that race.
"Honestly a huge confidence booster to be able to run with Kyle and have the speed that we had," Briscoe said. "To be able to compete with a guy like that was huge for my team’s confidence as well as myself."
Another Hendrick Motorsports driver, and reigning Cup Series champion, Chase Elliott made an impression in his midget debut at Millbridge as a tune-up for his first go at the Chili Bowl.
"I’ve been honestly blown away at how interested he is in and how devoted he’s been to trying to get better at it," Briscoe said. "I was absolutely blown away at how well he ran. To run third and fourth against guys that are USAC Champions. There are guys that have won Chili Bowl prelim nights. I mean he was right there in the hunt and battling with us and it’s just amazing how quick he picked it up."
Briscoe has helped Elliott get acclimated with the dirt midget along with making the connection with sponsor DiaEdge.
"He actually had tested my midget almost three years ago now and did a really good job and he’d always talk about wanting to race and I kind of had an opportunity where we had a sponsor kind of lined up," Briscoe said. "And if he wanted to do it, it was kind of all his and he jumped on board right away."
The Chili Bowl will have over 300 entries and include current NASCAR regulars Christopher Bell, Justin Allgaier, Brett Moffitt, Ryan Newman, Garrett Smithley, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and JJ Yeley. Also, Motor Racing Network Announcer Dillon Welch will be one of Bell’s CB Industries teammates. Bell, who will race for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Cup Series in 2021, took home the coveted Golden Driller trophy three consecutive years before finishing second to Larson last January.
"You’ve got to have a really fast car," Briscoe said. "You got to have a little bit of luck. It’s just tough. I think last year there was 336 cars going for 24 starting positions. You have to be fast like I said, but you know, you do really have to have a little bit of luck along the way and there’s only five or six guys that can have bad luck and still have enough speed to make it back to the Saturday A-main. It’s just a really hard race."