Chase Briscoe Rides Emotions in NASCAR Xfinity Series Return to Racing
An emotional Chase Briscoe battled Kyle Busch to the line, beating and banging each other in the last ten laps, that probably had fans at home on their feet. Briscoe overcame Busch at the line to capture the win in the Toyota 200 at Darlington Raceway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ first race back since the COVID 19 pandemic brought sports to a halt.
The win was all the more poignant for Briscoe by the personal emotions of the week. Chase Briscoe’s emotional ride started on Wednesday when he and his wife, Marissa, shared they learned the day before about the loss of the baby they were expecting to welcome late in the year.
“This is for my wife. This has been the hardest week I’ve ever had to deal with,” Briscoe said shortly after climbing out of the car with tears running down his face. “When I took the lead, I was crying in my car. This is more than a race win. This is the biggest win of my life after the toughest day of my life. To be able to beat the best there is; is so satisfying.”
For Briscoe, it was also the second win of the season after he took the victory earlier this year at Las Vegas. He is the lone multi-race Xfinity Series winner thus far in 2020.
NASCAR Xfinity Series First Race Since Early March
It was the first race for the Xfinity Series since the checkered flag flew in Phoenix, Arizona, on March 7, as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the sporting world a few days later. And the race was further delayed by the weather this week – initially, the event was set for Tuesday evening but was rained out and pushed out two days. Then, as continued precipitation fell, it bumped a Thursday noon start by four and a half hours.
Like the NASCAR Cup Series races earlier in the week, the Xfinity Series raced at Darlington without the benefit of any practice or qualifying to feel out the track. And also like the two earlier events, there were no fans in the stands and all participants followed strict social distancing protocols at the track.
Noah Gragson, who started the race on the pole as per the point standings, finally led the field to green shortly after 4:30 pm ET and held that position through the completion of the opening stage. But during pit stops, reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch took the lead and maintained it through the second stage.
The drama that was unfolding during the Stage 2 pit stops was helping to set up a thrilling finish. A pit road speeding penalty sent Kyle Busch from the lead to the tail end of the field for the restart.
The threat of rain was also creating urgency in the field, producing three-wide racing and plenty of famous ‘Darlington stripes’ to the right side of the cars as a result.
Setting Up the Emotional Toyota 200 Finish
With 20 to go, Briscoe and JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier was racing back and forth, bouncing off the wall in a fight for the lead. At the same time, Allgaier’s teammate, Michael Annett, made a leap from fifth to third. Unfortunately, Annett’s gain was short-lived as his car spun out four laps later to bring out the final caution.
Busch worked his way up to fifth at the time of the caution, exiting the pits in third place. With nine to go, the restart put Briscoe and Allgaier on the front row, with Busch and Austin Cindric right behind. Briscoe took the advantageous outside spot on the restart, using that to gain a quick lead, while Allgaier and Busch fought for second.
Chase Briscoe Rides Emotions to a Thrilling Victory
Briscoe gained a half-second lead on the all-time Xfinity Series wins leader Busch while he was working on passing Allgaier. With three to go, Busch changed his line and dropped low to pick up ground on the leader.
With the two using all of the race track, they swapped the lead in the final lap as Briscoe was bouncing off the wall coming to the white flag, Busch was jumping to the advantage. But Briscoe came right back, passing Busch and ultimately holding him off in a clash to the finish line.
Holding off Busch at the line meant everything to Briscoe.
“This is the number one win. Honestly, winning the Daytona 500 couldn’t even top the feeling of just, like I was saying earlier, the ups and downs. This is what my family needed and what my wife needed.”
Xfinity Rookie Briscoe is the Series’ Points Leader by 19 points over Fellow Rookie Harrison Burton
The NASCAR Xfinity Series next race is under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Alsco 300 on Monday, May 25, at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
NASCAR Xfinity Series Race – Toyota 200
Darlington, South Carolina
Thursday, May 21, 2020
1. (11) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 147.
2. (26) Kyle Busch(i), Toyota, 147.
3. (10) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 147.
4. (7) Austin Cindric, Ford, 147.
5. (1) Noah Gragson, Chevrolet, 147.
6. (23) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 147.
7. (4) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 147.
8. (9) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 147.
9. (12) Harrison Burton #, Toyota, 147.
10. (3) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 147.
11. (22) Brett Moffitt(i), Chevrolet, 147.
12. (30) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 147.
13. (6) Brandon Brown, Chevrolet, 147.
14. (17) Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, 147.
15. (13) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 147.
16. (15) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 147.
17. (16) Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, 147.
18. (5) Riley Herbst #, Toyota, 147.
19. (36) Joe Graf Jr #, Chevrolet, 147.
20. (8) Brandon Jones, Toyota, 147.
21. (19) Ray Black II, Chevrolet, 147.
22. (28) Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 147.
23. (34) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 147.
24. (24) Chad Finchum, Toyota, 147.
25. (2) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 146.
26. (25) Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, 146.
27. (31) Colby Howard, Chevrolet, 146.
28. (29) Joe Nemechek(i), Chevrolet, 145.
29. (20) Vinnie Miller, Chevrolet, 145.
30. (33) Mason Massey, Toyota, 143.
31. (32) Ronnie Bassett Jr, Chevrolet, 143.
32. (21) Kody Vanderwal #, Chevrolet, 142.
33. (35) Bayley Currey(i), Chevrolet, 142.
34. (27) Matt Mills, Chevrolet, 135.
35. (14) Myatt Snider, Chevrolet, 129.
36. (18) Jesse Little #, Chevrolet, Vibration, 122.
37. (39) Colin Garrett, Toyota, 111.
38. (38) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, Handling, 35.
39. (37) Stephen Leicht, Toyota, Suspension, 1.
The Toyota 200 Stats
Average Speed of Race Winner: 115.367 mph.
Time of Race: One Hr, 44 Mins, 26 Secs. The Margin of Victory: 0.086 Seconds.
Caution Flags: Five for 28 laps.
Lead Changes: Ten among six drivers.
Lap Leaders: N. Gragson 1-46;R. Chastain 47;K. Busch(i) 48-91;J. Allgaier 92;B. Brown 93;J. Allgaier 94-95;C. Briscoe 96-129;J. Allgaier 130-135;C. Briscoe 136-145;K. Busch(i) 146;C. Briscoe 147.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Noah Gragson one time for 46 laps; Chase Briscoe three times for 45 laps; Kyle Busch(i) two times for 45 laps; Justin Allgaier three times for nine laps; Ross Chastain one time for one lap; Brandon Brown one time for one lap.
Stage 1 Top-Ten: 9,10,39,54,22,7,8,98,1,11
Stage 2 Top-Ten: 54,7,9,98,1,8,10,22,39,51