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Ford Performance NASCAR: Chase Briscoe Media Availability Transcript

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
NASCAR Cup Series
NASCAR Zoom Media Availability | Thursday, May 13, 2021

CHASE BRISCOE, No. 14 Ford Performance Racing School Ford Mustang — DOES IT FEEL LIKE THINGS ARE GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION NOW FOR THE 14 TEAM? “Yeah, I mean I feel like for sure being able to run closer towards the front definitely is good for confidence and momentum, and I feel like this last couple weeks we haven’t made mistakes, where early in the year we had about the same speed — maybe a little less — but we would just have a bad pit stop or I’d speed on pit road or something like that, so I feel like the last couple weeks we’ve just executed and haven’t dug ourselves in a deeper hole. Obviously, right now as a company we’re still off a little bit, so we just have to be perfect. We can’t make mistakes. I feel like Darlington, for example, we just did everything all day right the correct way. We didn’t make any mistakes all day. We had solid pit stops all day long . Got on and off pit road good all day long and it was just a solid day all around and when we did that we had a solid result, so we just have to keep trying to do those things and as we continue to run farther up front our starting position gets better and all those things just compound and make everything easier in general in the race. I think right now we’re 20 points out of 20th place in points and if we could get to 20th it’s only gonna help our position in the starting lineup even more, so we just have to keep doing the little things right and, like I said all year long we’ve got to crawl then walk then run and we just have to keep making baby steps week in and week out.”

HAS THERE BEEN ONE BIG HURDLE THAT’S BEEN DIFFICULT TO CLEAR FOR YOU? “I think all of it. It’s all tougher. In the XFINITY Series I felt like on a bad day we would still run seventh or eighth, where now if you have a bad day you run 25th-30th, so the competition is a lot tougher. As a rookie, I feel like you get raced a little bit different than some guys. You’ve got to kind of earn your respect in a sense, so I think, for me, just the competitive side has been the biggest eye-opener, but then there’s been a lot of things that I’ve had to learn to get better at — green flag pit stops is obviously a crucial, crucial part of the Cup Series and I didn’t have a lot of experience with that in the XFINITY Series and then now with no practice I just show up and in the middle of the race that’s my first chance to try it. We don’t have practice or anything like that to kind of figure out where i need to start braking and pit road is a lot busier and all these things, so I think, for me, just trying to do all the little things right. If you go back to Kansas last week, I wasn’t hitting my pit sign hardly at all. I was always a couple feel short or a foot long or whatever and our pit stops suffered, so I went to pit practice this past weekend and really tried to focus on that and then this week made sure I hit my pit sign every time and I think we were the seventh or something best pit crew on pit road, so it’s all just the little details and when you’re kind of like where we are right now and you’re kind of racing in that 15th range speed-wise, those little details is what makes the difference in being in the back half of the top 10 or running 20th, so that’s been the biggest thing is just trying to do all the little things right because you do a couple of those little things wrong and it really adds up.”

HOW IS IT MENTALLY TO HAVE MORE BAD DAYS COMPARED TO WHAT YOU HAD LAST YEAR? “It’s certainly tough. I mean, you go from going to the racetrack — the XFINITY Series has 33 races and I went to the racetrack every weekend thinking that I was gonna be the guy to beat and not that you don’t also have that in the Cup Series, but I think you have realistic expectations. I knew coming into the Cup Series I probably wasn’t gonna win nine races this year. I knew it was gonna be a huge learning process for me just trying to continue to get better week in and week out, and, for me, I know that I’m not a worse race car driver than I was last year. If anything, I’m better now than I’ve ever been just because of the experience I’ve been getting, so I know I’m still capable of running up front and, for me, I just try to judge myself off of my teammates. They’re obviously the closest thing I have to what I’m racing week in and week out and fairly consistently I feel like we’ve been able to be the second-best car, so that’s been the biggest thing for me is just try to be the second-best car week in and week out. Obviously, we want to be the best car, but we’ve got a long ways to go to be where Harvick is right now and we know that. Truthfully, I don’t think there’s expectations for me to be outrunning Harvick right now, so if I can just be the second-best car every week I feel like I’m doing my job right now. I think the results will come as I continue to get experience. It just takes some time. Like I said, I feel like from where I was week one to where I’m at right now is a significantly different race car driver from the experience standpoint, even a confidence standpoint as I get these 11th-place runs and get a run. You know at Darlington we ran for a while there seventh or eighth place. As I continue to run up there I gain confidence. All of those things are just gonna continue to add up and once we slowly start putting it all together I feel confident that we’ll be able to battle for wins, but we’ve got to start battling for top 10s first and battle for top fives and eventually wins.”

DO YOU FEEL THE EQUIPMENT HAS IMPROVED THE LAST MONTH OR ARE YOU JUST GETTING MORE COMFORTABLE? “I think, I can’t speak for the whole company, but I feel like on the 14 team specifically we’ve just done a better job of doing those little things right. We haven’t been putting ourselves in a box. The way we look at a race on the 14 team is we just need to try to gain two spots every run. We need two spots over the green flag cycle then come down pit road, gain a spot or two, on the restart gain a spot or two where we continue to get up in track position, so, for us, I just feel like we’ve been doing that better. I don’t know if our cars are necessarily better. I think if you look at Kevin he’s kind of been the same area he’s kind of run all year long and I would say he’s kind of the benchmark for us, so I think there’s no question that at least for me that our cars are still off, especially on the mile-and-a-half stuff. I feel like we have quite a ways to go, but for us on the 14 team I just feel like we’ve done a better job of doing the little things right week in and week out and that’s why our results have been getting better.”

HAVE YOU DRIVEN COTA IN ANYTHING? “I went there two or three months ago and I think I ran seven laps total that day, so I’ve got very little experience, but I have at least seen the racetrack, so I’ve got a general idea of what to expect whenever we go there.”

WHAT DO FANS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE DIFFICULTY OF DOVER? “I personally really enjoy Dover. It’s one of my more favorite racetracks. It’s definitely in the top half of tracks I enjoy going to. It’s a place where I feel like it takes a lot of commitment. You have to have high commitment driving down into the corner. Whenever you go to pass somebody if you’re side-by-side, it’s who is braver getting into the corner. It’s that guy who decides not to lift that normally comes out with the position, so Dover is a place that is high commitment. Even when you’re just out there driving around by yourself it’s a high commitment racetrack to go fast. It’s so fast to drive down into the corner, high banking and you have to have high commitment on getting back into the gas even before you get to the center of the corner, so I think that’s the biggest thing that stands out to me is just the commitment level you have to have whenever you go there, and then it’s just a super tricky place to set up passes. You have to really time everything properly so you can even get beside them. When I go to Dover I just think of the commitment level it takes to go good there.”

WHEN DID YOU LEARN COMMITMENT AS A YOUNG DRIVER? IS THAT HARD TO LEARN IMMEDIATELY? “For me, I think the first I went to Dover we were able to sit on the pole and I truly attribute a lot of that to going back to my ARCA days and running at places like Salem and Winchester, which are kind of small Dovers in a sense. Those are places I’ve always enjoyed going to. I’ve always enjoyed high-banked racetracks, so, for me, I think if I wouldn’t have run Salem and Winchester and stuff in the ARCA Series, Dover probably would have been a lot harder for me, but I felt like going to those places it felt like you were going just as fast there even though it was half the size. I think some guys it might be really hard to show up and go there. It definitely can be an intimidating place, but with all the experience I have at those places I felt more comfortable, I guess. And then the restarts are definitely really challenging at Dover. It’s hard to make passes. It’s very easy to get caught up in somebody else’s wreck there, just how close we are all the time on the restarts. I think at Dover the choose cone probably comes more into play than a lot of places. It seems like sometimes the top will roll a little bit better and then the bottom is kind of the place to be, so it’s definitely a challenge whenever we go to Dover on restarts and it’s definitely one that gets the heart rate up for sure.”

HOW HAS THE LACK OF PRACTICE HURT YOUR ORGANIZATION AS FAR AS DIAGNOSING WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOUR EQUIPMENT? “I think for sure that practice would help. When you go to the racetrack, say we try something new you don’t know if it’s gonna work or not and if it doesn’t work, then obviously you’re kind of stuck with it the whole race, where if we had practice we could get more aggressive and try things and if it doesn’t work you could change everything and go back to kind of what we know, so that part is definitely I feel like affecting us a little bit, and as a rookie being able to have practice would be huge and just even if it’s 15 minutes so I can kind of get an idea of what I need in the race car and even what to expect on the racetrack, so I would say practice definitely is a contributing factor of why it’s harder now than ever to kind of get back on track when you’re struggling, but everybody is in the same boat as we are, we’ve just got to figure it out and I’m confident that we will.”

HOW CHALLENGING IS IT AT DOVER WITH THE RUBBER BEING LAID DOWN AND THEN COMING UP UNDER CAUTION? “That is a tough part about Dover. Your car is gonna do something totally different at the beginning of the run versus the end of the run just because of that rubber, and your car might be fighting one thing and then 10 laps later it’s magically fixed or it’s magically way worse. That’s kind of the tough balance about Dover. You throw in the green flag pit stops, where we don’t have the time to pick up the rubber, your car will handle totally different then too on new tires, so Dover is hard. That’s a place I feel like where you have to have that experience as a driver to kind of know what to expect, kind of that balance change as well as the crew chief and the engineers have to kind of know the trends that normally happen there, so it definitely picks up all the rubber under caution. It’s pretty incredible to see from the driver’s seat, just the color change in the racetrack from lap 100 of a green flag run versus whenever a caution comes out. That’s just one of the things you know going to Dover and you have to be ready for it.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL THE PJ1 WORKS AT TEXAS? “It’s definitely hard. The PJ1, it seems like it’s ice and then all of a sudden it’s like you’re on a slot car track. There’s kind of no in-between, so, for us, I feel like last year it was a little bit easier just to go out and get in it, where I remember the first year and a half we went there you couldn’t even touch it and you were spinning out. It seems like our tires do a little bit better job than what they (Indy Car) run. I think the PJ1 is probably a little more suited for what we do versus them, but it’s definitely challenging. I don’t envy what those guys are doing around that place at those speeds knowing how treacherous it could be. Unfortunately, that’s kind of the box we’re in at Texas right now, just with how the racetrack is and you kind of have to have that PJ1 out there to kind of make a race out of it and get the track more than one groove. As the years go on it will get better, I think, but it’s definitely challenging and I can only imagine how hard it is for those guys.”

NASCAR INFORMED TEAMS YOU DON’T HAVE TO WEAR A MASK OUTDOORS AT DOVER. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THAT? “If NASCAR feels confident that that’s the OK thing, then I’m confident that all the teams will respect that decision and inside the hauler still wear it and then outside be able to take it off. I was reading somewhere where the CDC said that it was OK to be outside without one, so I know that NASCAR has done all their due diligence to make sure that what they’re making now the new mandate or allowing us to do is the safe and proper thing to do. I trust their judgment 100 percent. They’ve been on the forefront of all this stuff. Obviously, we were the first sport back and we’ve done it safely to this point, so I’m confident we can continue to do that.”

WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTATIONS THIS WEEKEND? “I feel like it is a good track for me. I’ve always felt like I’ve had pretty decent speed whenever I go there, but obviously the Cup deal, like we’ve been talking earlier this whole time, it’s definitely a whole other animal. It’s a lot tougher, so I think for us we have to do those little things right once again. If we do that, the one good thing is last year this was a low downforce race and the SHR cars were really strong, so hopefully we can continue that into this year. We have a little bit better starting position than we normally would, so we just need to keep doing those top 15, top 10. If we can get in the top 10 that would be great to finish up there, but I know as a race car driver I feel confident going there and I feel that’s a huge part of going to the racetrack is having confidence there, so we’ll see how this weekend goes. All we can do is control what we can control and try to do all those things right and hopefully at the end of the day the results will be there.”

WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU THE MOST SO FAR THIS SEASON? “I think for sure all the different winners. The amount of winners that we’ve had it’s gonna be challenging to make the playoffs. Obviously, we’re still quite a ways off that. If we can get six or seven weeks in a row here where we’re running in the top 10 and getting stage points it’s still not impossible, I don’t think, to get to that cutoff spot, but with how many winners there is it’s very well possible that we have over 16 winners when we get to that point, so it’s probably gonna take a win, but I would say that’s for sure been the biggest surprise of this season is how many winners we’ve had.”

WHEN YOU GO TO COTA YOU WILL HAVE PRACTICE. HOW MUCH DO YOU ANTICIPATE THAT PRACTICE WILL BE DEVOTED TO NOT JUST GETTING READY FOR THE RACE WEEKEND, BUT WORKING ON THINGS AS A TEAM AND A TRACK ATMOSPHERE THAT YOU DON’T GET TO DO AT OTHER TRACKS THAT DON’T HAVE PRACTICE? “I think it’s gonna be hard. The thing is there, I don’t think you can necessarily try stuff that’s gonna work at other places with it being a road course, but I will say that it’s probably gonna be a challenge to go and do a practice environment. That’s something that normally doing a shock change or doing whatever is so second nature and they can do it so quickly to really maximize that practice time, where we haven’t done that a lot in the last year and a half, so I think the team guys might be a little rusty when it comes to that, but I think the other thing at COTA as far as I know there’s only a 50-minute practice and by the time you do an out lap, do an in lap, and do whatever lap you’re doing, you’re probably not gonna get but maybe eight to nine laps of practice at the most, so it’s gonna be really hard to make changes and figure out what kind of works because you’re probably only gonna get two or three changes at the absolute most. So, you’re still gonna have to unload very quick from a speed standpoint and a balance standpoint, so it’s gonna be hard. I’m glad we’re gonna have some practice just, for me, to get back in the rhythm of especially road course racing to see what I need. I felt like at the Daytona road course at the very end of the race we were pretty good, it just took us three or four adjustments to get to that point, so hopefully at COTA we can kind of start where we ended Daytona and have some good speed.”

YOU’VE GOTTEN SOME TRACK TIME AT NASHVILLE. WHAT WERE YOUR TAKEAWAYS FROM YOUR TESTS THERE? “It was definitely a lot quicker of a racetrack speed-wise than I thought it was gonna be. I didn’t realize we were gonna be using as much brake and stuff as we were, so that was very eye-opening. I think it’s gonna be a challenge to pass, but it’s hard to really say truthfully because there were only three of us there. There’s not a ton of rubber getting put down. It was really, really cold when we were there. I think you put 40 cars out there. We’re gonna have three series as well with practice, so the rubber is gonna get there. When we were there it was pretty much one lane on the bottom, but with all those cars, all the rubber that’s gonna be put down, there’s probably gonna be hotter temperatures, I would assume the track is gonna widen out quite a bit more, but it’s hard to say with only three cars there, so I think it’ll be exciting to go to Nashville. It’s a great city. I think they’ve got a ton of fans already scheduled to be there, so it’s gonna be really cool to race in front of a lot of people. It’s always cool to go to a new racetrack, so I’m excited for it. I’m glad I’m gonna have a lot of laps there, being able to use two Goodyear tire tests, I think that will be a huge advantage for me just unloading. By the end of practice I think everybody will be caught up, but it will be nice to go to a racetrack and kind of know what to expect the first lap.”



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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