The 2019 Xfinity Series season was a great season to look back on for Chase Briscoe and the No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing team, especially after winning Rookie of the Year honors. There were a couple of rocky starts at Daytona and Atlanta, finishing 12th and 15th, respectively. However, from Las Vegas to Dover, the team finished mainly in the top five. There were some issues later such as Charlotte in May when Briscoe finished 19th, one lap down. There were a few more including Chicago in July with a 15th place result and a DNF at Daytona.
But the team got right back on track the following week at Kentucky with a top-five finish. Then at Iowa, Briscoe had a great car and secured his first win of the season, his first since the victory at the Charlotte Roval. With the win, he was able to lock the No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing team into the Playoffs.
The team started off the Playoffs at Richmond Raceway with another top-five finish. Then two weeks in a row at the Charlotte Roval and Kansas, Briscoe qualified the No. 98 on the pole. The Playoffs were looking up for the Stewart-Haas driver, however, a wreck at Texas prior to ISM Raceway hurt their chances to advance. Briscoe finished 22nd and was in a must-win situation going into the final race in the Round of 8.
An eighth-place finish wasn’t enough to push the team for the Championship 4 and they were left to battle for a top-10 position. Even though he could not win the championship, Briscoe still had an opportunity to win the race at Homestead and he certainly had the car capable of doing so. He started fifth and won the first stage. The No. 98 team remained consistent for a finishing position of fifth for Stage 2.
Briscoe never fell out of contention in spite of bringing out the caution on Lap 124. He bounced off the wall off Turn 1 and eventually had a flat tire. Even with the incident, new tires helped the team and in the end, he came home with a third place finish after leading 14 laps.
“Yeah, I think if I had to read it on a 1 to 10 scale, I would say it was like a 6 1/2,” Briscoe said. “I felt like at the beginning of the year I kind of struggled to understand what I needed in these race cars, and truthfully how to drive them and the feel I was looking for. I just struggled to find ‑‑ the biggest thing was I couldn’t feel the right rear ever. As the season went on, we kind of switched from trying to say do what Harvick ran the year before and what Cole was running and just try to build more of a setup to what I felt better about.”
“Iowa was really the first race that we decided to do that, and that was the race we won. It seemed like from then on out we were a serious contender every week. Felt like the second half of the year was a lot better than the first half of the year, but we definitely ‑‑ looking back at these playoffs, especially, I felt like we could have realistically won three or four of the races, and weird stuff happens. The Kansas deal, the Roval was one where I felt like I could have ran down Allmendinger. Dover, I think we led the most laps and didn’t catch a caution, and then tonight just getting into the wall.”
“I think the end of the year was definitely better than the first part of the year, but overall we definitely have more to improve on and I can get way better as a driver I feel like.”
While winning Rookie of The Year may help his resume, Briscoe currently has no plans for 2020 and does not know if he will be back with Stewart-Haas Racing next year.
“I know they’re still working on trying to find funding to make it happen, but as of right now I don’t have anything,” Briscoe added.
“Obviously I was wanting to win the race tonight. I feel like if I did that, it would have made everything a lot easier. But I felt like we showed speed and I feel like if we do get to go back next year, I feel like we could be serious championship contenders, and hopefully, they can and we can work together and try to figure something out. But yeah, right now they’re still working on it.”
Briscoe finishes the 2019 season with one win, 13 top fives, 26 top-10s and 197 laps led along with an average finish of 8.2.