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Ford Performance NASCAR: Chase Briscoe Ford Zoom Call Transcript

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
NASCAR Cup Series
Ford Zoom Media Availability | Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 14 Global Mustang Week Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Cup Series for Stewart-Haas Racing, is in the midst of his rookie season at NASCAR’s top level. He was a guest on today’s weekly Ford Zoom call, where he discussed how things have gone with members of the media.

CHASE BRISCOE, No. 14 Global Mustang Week Ford Mustang — IT’S MUSTANG WEEK, SO WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MUSTANG STORY? “I’ve been very fortunate to drive Mustangs my entire career, really. We were in the F-150 there for a couple years in the Truck Series, but, for me, when I think of Mustang I just think about the commitment that Ford has made to me, truthfully. Without them, there’s no way that I’m sitting here talking to you guys right now, and for them to believe in me from day one, I know it’s not necessarily a Mustang story on the street or something that you would be expecting, but when I think of Mustang I think of Ford and without Ford and them taking a chance on me, there’s no way I would get to do what I love to do for a living. So, when I think of Mustang or F-150 or any of those it all comes back to Ford and the commitment they’ve made to me. I’ll forever be grateful for that commitment. There have definitely been plenty of times I felt like they could have dropped me and they stuck behind me and continued to believe in me. Mark Rushbrook and Pat DiMarco and everybody over there from day one has believed in me, probably even sometimes when I didn’t believe in myself they continued to, so that’s what I think of when I think Mustang for me, and then just the heritage that Mustang carries and the cool thing about being with Ford is it’s all racers. That’s where the whole company started and to continue to have that racing heritage, and obviously with Mustang and it’s special for me to have Global Mustang Week on the car and carry that heritage for so many fans that come along with the Mustang brand. It’ll be cool to carry them all along.”

HOW HAS THIS PROCESS BEEN FOR YOU WITH SHR STRUGGLING AS AN ORGANIZATION AND YOU TRYING TO GET ACCLIMATED TO THE CUP SERIES? “It’s definitely unique and just being in our competition meetings and things like that talking to the other guys and just talking about some of the things that we’re struggling with this year we would have never really struggled with in the past, and just knowing that I think, for me, just trying to keep all of that in check. Obviously, we want to go out there and try to win every race and right now our cars are off. We’re just trying to keep that confidence and it’s been hard to not run like I thought we would. I think the encouraging thing is we’ve been fast at times of the race, we just haven’t been able to put the whole thing together and I think that will come with experience. But then I think the good thing, I guess for me in a sense of being a rookie and kind of struggling results-wise is our whole company is struggling, so it’s not like the other three guys are running in the top five and 10 the whole race. As a company we’re kind of off, so I feel like I’m getting kind of what we’ve got out of the thing, it’s just a matter of figuring out where we’re missing right now and trying to get it better, and I’m confident that we’ll do that. At an organization like SHR we have so many smart people that we’re gonna figure it out, it’s just a matter of finding that little bit that we need right now. So, it’s definitely been hard, but at the same time we’re only eight races in. I’ve learned a ton in these first eight races and will continue to throughout the year.”

DO YOU SEEM TO GET BETTER AS THE RACES GOES ON BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE THAT’S THE CASE? “Yeah, for sure. I think that just goes back to the no practice thing. The first 150-200 laps of the race I’m just trying to figure out what I’m doing and kind of what I need. You only have one or two adjustments up to that and I’ve probably steered them the wrong direction a time or two and then it takes us toward the last quarter of the race. Once we get to the three-quarter mark, I want to say in every race this year with the exception of Atlanta, we’ve been a top-10 speed car every week and I think with no practice it’s hard to expect to start off there with a rookie. I feel like if we could obviously start at that point, the race would go totally better, but, for us, at that three-quarter mark in the race when we have that top-10 speed we’re mired back 20th-25th area and then it’s just hard to rally. Last week, we were able to drive up to eighth or ninth that one run and then we had a loose wheel and end up blowing a tire, so we haven’t been able to put the whole thing together, and even just maximizing the end of the race when we have speed and trying to recover, and I think we’ve done a good job of making our cars better every week and driving better and getting more speed out of them, we just haven’t been able to capitalize necessarily on that speed. I could literally point back to every race this year where we could have finished way better than what we do and we just kind of have a mess up at the end. Phoenix is another one. I think we drove up to eighth or ninth and we had a 25-second green flag pit stop with 60 to go and you just can’t have that in the Cup Series. It’s just so tight and so competitive, so I think as the year goes on hopefully that three-quarter mark will move back to halfway into the race and then a quarter of the way into the race, and then from there you can fight and recover from things a lot easier and just have speed a lot earlier in the race.”

WHO FLIPPED YOU OFF FOR A WHOLE LAP AT MARTINSVILLE? “There was more than one. There was like four or five, to be honest with you. I felt like every person that I’ve raced around was mad. I don’t know if that’s just part of the Cup deal or what. I know I was talking to Corey LaJoie after the race and Bowman and all of them were like, ‘if you race hard, they get mad’ for whatever reason. There were a couple. I don’t want to throw them under the bus or anything like that, but I felt like everything I did was never in the wrong. I passed them and then they’d get mad or I’d out-brake them getting in the corner and then I’d be on their inside and they’d flip you off for the next lap. I don’t know. I don’t want to throw him under the bus, but it was somebody I raced with last year. It was frustrating, for sure. I don’t know why everybody was so mad about racing hard and getting out-braked, but I guess, according to Bowmand and LaJoie and them guys they get pretty mad if you do that.”

NASCAR IS GOING TO START LETTING SPONSORS AND OTHERS IN THE GARAGE STARTING AT DARLINGTON. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT? “I think we’re in a good spot to start opening things up. I feel like we’ve done a really good job even at the end of last year and this year. If they feel like they’re comfortable to be able to start doing that, then I know as a driver I’m comfortable. It’s really no different. I don’t feel like last week walking into Martinsville I probably signed for 30 or 40 fans walking in because they’re all standing there. I feel like it’s no different if we have sponsors in the garage or whatever. I think the sponsors in the garage is a huge thing that we’ve been needing to have happen. I know just from my end High Point has been in this sport since literally the first race of last year and that’s the only race they’ve been able to go to in the garage, and that’s something they’ve been needing to be able to do — to go and talk to other companies from a B to B standpoint and meet these other people and CEOs and things like that, and they haven’t had that opportunity because of COVID. To keep them around we need those B to B opportunities for High Point, so I’m glad that they’re gonna be able to go now starting at Darlington and hopefully we can continue to get more and more people in there, and then obviously the fans by the end of the year because it is such an atmosphere that we need.”

TONY STEWART SAID THERE’S NO PLAYBOOK WHEN SOMEBODY COMES TO THE CUP LEVEL. HOW HAVE YOU WORKED THROUGH ALL OF THE ADVERSITY YOU’VE FACED ON AND OFF THE TRACK DURING THIS TIME? “I think Tony definitely hit the nail on the head when you say there is no playbook, and just the change in everything. Whether it’s on the racetrack, off the racetrack, on the Cup side, I’ve been more busy now than I’ve ever been in my entire career combined just this year alone, so there’s a lot of things that are very new, and you add COVID on top of that and I feel like it’s even harder, but I feel like the mental side is so big in the race car, but off the racetrack and especially in racing. I just feel like confidence goes such a long way. If you’re not confident in your abilities and what you’re doing, you start second guessing and whenever there are split-second decisions to be made you can’t second-guess and normally if you second-guess nine times out of 10 you choose wrong, you end up in the wreck or you make the wrong move and all those things. I think, for me, I’ve really tried to lean on Harvick a lot this year and just talk to him, and even going back to yesterday I talked to him about, I feel like my entire career I’ve never really been vocal on the radio. I’m a pretty even-keeled guy. I don’t get worked up. I don’t yell. I don’t get frustrated. I’m pretty normal all the time and just kind of relaxed all the time, and I probably need to get a little more worked up in the race car and let my team know what I need and not get angry or mad, not yell and scream, but be more adamant. And just talking to Kevin yesterday about how to express my frustrations, how to kind of explain those things that I’m feeling inside the race car, just so we can make our whole team better. I don’t know if that’s necessarily the answer to the question you’re wanting, but I feel like just trying to lean on guys that have experience and have been there, and obviously Kevin is one of the best to talk to, whether it’s on-track stuff or off-track stuff and just trying to use him as much as I can to try to get as close to a playbook as I can get.”

KEVIN WAS KNOWN FOR BEING VOCAL ON THE RADIO EARLY IN HIS CAREER. HOW HAS HE HELPED YOU IN THAT REGARD? “I think, for me, I told him that I feel like in the past I’ve never been in a situation where I felt like I could not complain, but even bring up things that I felt like were a big issue. Going back to last week at Martinsville, I felt like as a team we could have communicated a lot better, for example. There were a couple of times we should have pitted and we didn’t, and we were gonna take the wave around, but there are lead lap cars in front of us and a couple times we didn’t even know who we were racing for the lucky dog. It was frustrating from my end just not knowing, and I know at Martinsville it’s really hard for my crew chief and spotter to even know all those things that are going on because stuff happens so fast, but I just felt like it needed to be addressed to make our team better, and just talking to Kevin about ‘how do I bring this up without being a rear end essentially?’ I don’t want to be that guy just because that’s not who I am from a personality standpoint. I’m not gonna be going into a meeting and pounding my fist or cussing or anything like that, and just trying to figure out how to be that guy because, like I said, in the past I never felt like I could complain because I was just thankful for the opportunity and I didn’t want to screw up my opportunity. So, just talking to Kevin about how I think the best thing he told me was you have to look out for yourself. This is a business and if you don’t bring things up, the blame is gonna get pointed at you on why the results aren’t coming and things like that. Not saying I’m trying to blame the results on our team, I just felt like we could run a lot better and just communicate a lot better, and as that communication gets better and even me communicating what I need in the car — all those things — those are gonna make our results better, so just trying to make our team better from start to finish of the race and talking to Kevin just about how he would go about the situation that I felt like I was in the other day.”

WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FOR YOU SO FAR IN THE CUP SERIES? “The attention to detail off the track, the things at the shop that are done, but then on the track just how you have to be 100 percent. You can’t make one mistake. If you make one mistake, at least kind of where we’re at from a speed standpoint, you just can’t recover and just how hard it is to literally run for 20th. I feel like I race harder for 20th in the Cup Series than I did to win XFINITY races, and I think what little I’ve been up front — like on the Daytona Road Course there for a couple of laps — I feel like the racing intensity is actually easier at the front of the field versus in that midpack area just because everybody is kind of fighting for their life back there and it’s just so cutthroat, so I think that would be the biggest thing is just how you have to be on. You can’t have one mistake and if you have one mistake, you’re just kind of buried for the day, especially if it happens late in the race. So, just trying to minimize those mistakes and try to do the best I can from a preparation standpoint and trying to know what I need to do on the racetrack with no practice, just knowing what my marks are gonna be from the get-go. It’s very tough. It’s very cutthroat and everybody talks about that step from the XFINITY Series to Cup, but it’s definitely tough.”

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU TAKE AWAY FROM MARTINSVILLE TO RICHMOND? “I know from a setup standpoint that one run where we drove up through the field we felt like we were really, really strong and that was an adjustment we made, and just trying to get the car as similar to that as we can. Richmond is probably my worst racetrack by quite a bit, so just trying to look at that stuff and kind of see what at Martinsville correlated over. I think they feel like their car will be a little bit better than what it was last year at Richmond just from a drive standpoint — forward drive, just a grip standpoint — so just trying to figure out setup-wise, looking back at even these first eight races and see how I’m different from Clint. I know that they’ve talked about how my tolerance for freeness is a lot bigger than what they’re used to, and I’m really loose, but, to me, I don’t feel loose, but for them setup-wise it’s way looser than what they’re typically used to running, so just trying to figure those differences between Clint and I so they can really try to build a setup more molded to me.”

HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO MAINTAIN MOMENTUM AND FOCUS WHEN A RACE GETS POSTPONED FROM ONE DAY TO THE NEXT LIKE LAST WEEKEND? “I don’t feel like it’s too hard, especially in today’s climate of no practice. We kind of do that every week, where you just show up and go. We weren’t really that far into the race. For me, I felt like that rain delay was a huge blessing just because it finally allowed me to get of the car and look at data, go home at night, sleep on it and think about what I needed to be doing different — even go back and watch the first 40 laps of the race and that’s something I haven’t been able to do all year, so, for me, I felt like it was big. Obviously, rain delays aren’t ideal, but for a rookie I felt like it was a huge advantage that would help me just kind of shorten that gap between the rest of the field.”

WHAT IS THE STATUS OF THE BABY CHICKS MARISSA BROUGHT HOME? “That deal there, I don’t know how she thought this was a good idea. I don’t know. It makes no sense to me why she thinks that we need four chickens at our house. Like I told her, it would be different if we lived on a lot of land or on a farm. I would be OK with getting 20 chickens, but we live in a neighborhood and they’re definitely not gonna be OK with chickens, so, yeah, they’re still here right now. They’re no longer in our house, thankfully. They’re now in the garage. I don’t know why she thought that was a good idea, either, but she said she was kind of bored watching the race because I wasn’t running very good and decided she was gonna go get some chickens because she wanted something to take care of, so we have four baby chicks and hopefully they’ll be gone soon.”

IF YOU RUN WELL THIS WEEKEND WHO KNOWS WHAT YOU MIGHT FIND WHEN YOU GET HOME. “Well, that was the scary thing is she said she was gonna go get four ducks and then they were out of ducks, so now she decided she was gonna get chickens. I told her I would have been way more happy and accepting if it was a puppy or something over four chickens. I don’t know where we’re gonna put these chickens. I’m trying to find somebody at our shop that has a farm. She just says she wants to get eggs and she doesn’t care she just wants them here and to be able to go outside and get eggs, but I’m pretty sure the town has an ordinance against that, so I might have to be the one to call the city on her.”

HAS THE MOVE TO CUP BEEN HARDER THAN YOU THOUGHT? “Yeah, I would say a little bit. I felt like I was gonna be able to go run a little bit better, for sure. If you would have told me that eight races in my best finish was gonna be 18th or 19th, I would probably been like, ‘No, I think we’ll be able to run top 10 maybe once or twice, right around that 15th mark almost every weekend.’ We just haven’t been able to do that and, like I was saying earlier, we’ve had the speed but just haven’t been able to capitalize on it. Phoenix was a great one that I felt like got away. I felt like at the worst we were gonna run eighth and potentially run sixth or seventh, and then we had that bad pit stop at the end and it kills you. I think we ended up running 24th or something there, so it’s definitely been tough. The Cup Series is just very intense and obviously the kind of struggles we’re having right now as a company, it’s not encouraging because as a team we want to be running better, but for me as a rookie to see that my teammates are kind of struggling just as bad as I am it helps a little bit, I guess, to relieve some of that worry and doubt that you would have just seeing if you were ready to do this or not. I feel like if Kevin is having a hard time running top 10, then our stuff is probably a little bit off, so hopefully we can get it turned around here soon and once we get the speed back in the car, like I was saying earlier, I feel like when our car drives the way I want it to drive, we’re always top 10 speed-wise, and as our cars get better that’s only gonna get easier, and then hopefully we can kind of get up front and more in the mix.”

DO YOU HAVE ANY SENSE OF HOW MUCH OF IT IS THE CAR AND HOW MUCH OF IT IS YOU? “I think it’s hard to put a number on it, but I think it’s both. I think, as a rookie eight races into your career, you can’t sit there and say it’s the car. A perfect example is the first three-quarters of the race I feel like I’m learning so much, even the last lap of the race I feel like I’m still learning a lot. I feel like I’m definitely part of the problem, for sure at the beginning of the race and just taking off and trying to maintain that track position and all of those things, but, at the same time, our cars are off from a speed standpoint. That’s no secret and even from a balance standpoint we’re off, and going through our competition meetings it seems like week in and week out all four of our cars fight the same thing, so we just have to figure out how to fix what we’re fighting from a balance standpoint and when the balance is better our speed is gonna be better, but I do think just from a raw speed we’re a little bit off still, but as a driver I’m definitely learning so much that I could definitely be doing better at the beginning of these races, but without practice it is hard. I think we’ve just got to continue to be the best I can be on the racetrack and then I know our cars are gonna get better for sure by the end of the year, and just trying to capitalize on that and at the end of the year we might say, ‘Hey, it was good for our team at the beginning of the year to have the whole company struggle and now that we’ve learned a lot and got to the end of the season our cars are fast now and we can capitalize on it.’ So we’ve just got to continue to learn — me as a driver and as a team — and I feel like once we get everything right, we’ll be able to contend and compete. It’s just a matter of putting it all together.”

IS YOUR DRIVING STYLE THE SAME OR DIFFERENT THAN YOUR TEAMMATES? “I think all four of us drive different, but I still feel like it’s all relatively the same. I think for us it has to be something a little bit with the car just because all four of us do struggle with the same thing every week, and even if we all four have totally different driving styles, we all four have the same complaints of what the car is doing, where we’re struggling with the car, what we need the car to do, so I think my driving style might be a little more different than what they’re used to with Clint, but I don’t think just because the other three drivers are different from me it necessarily means that we can’t take what they’re doing. I think you still have to fine-tune to your driver. What Kevin Harvick thinks is perfect is not gonna be what I think is perfect and vice versa, and that’s the same with all four cars. But I do think the 4 car, the 10 or the 41 hit on something that all of a sudden fixes their issue or all of a sudden gives them a lot of speed, I do think that will be a good fix for our whole company because we all do fight the same thing right now. Hopefully, we can figure that out soon. We really don’t get a true test, I mean we can still test but I feel like Kansas will be the first time back to see if we’ve fixed an issue or not, so hopefully we’ll have some more speed there and also this weekend because at Martinsville, obviously, we weren’t the best either.”

WHAT DO YOU HOPE YOU’RE ABLE TO DO AT KANSAS THAT YOU HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO DO ON THE MILE-AND-A-HALF TRACKS SO FAR? “I think just raw speed. You look back at Las Vegas. We were able to run wide-open just like Larson was, but he was still going way faster than we were, so just trying to figure out how he can run wide-open for 30-40 laps, where we can only do it for 5-10, and just try to figure out what we need in our race car to be able to do that, so hopefully we’ll have it by there. Kansas is a little bit different because I do feel like it’s gonna be easier to run wide-open there longer than most places, but just raw speed I think is the biggest thing. Like I said, when we’re both running wide-open they’re still going quite a bit faster than us and it’s easier for them to run wide-open. It’s harder for us even though we’re going slower, so just trying to figure all those things out.”



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