In the days and months leading up to Saturday’s inaugural Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course, Indiana’s own Chase Briscoe left no doubt how important a victory would be to him.
He sure had to earn this one.
After holding off an aggressive late-race charge from the field, the 25-year-old Hoosier took the checkered flag, maneuvered out of his No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, and joined team members climbing the frontstretch fencing just as his team owner — fellow Indiana native Tony Stewart — had famously done after earning Indianapolis victories in the NASCAR Cup Series.
It is Briscoe’s third win in the last four NASCAR Xfinity Series races and fifth of the season – a personal best and current series best mark – and certainly a sentimental accomplishment as well.
“Everybody knows growing up my hero in racing was Tony Stewart and getting to drive for him and watch him win the Brickyard — that was always his signature thing, and I just wanted to do it,” a smiling Briscoe told NBC Sports after climbing back down the fence. “Honestly, it’s not the same prestige as winning on the oval but you still won at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and it doesn’t matter if you’re racing on the oval, the road course, the dirt track or even the parking lot, it’s special winning here.
“Growing up and coming here all the time it’s unbelievable to think I just won here. So happy.”
“I’m wore out! That fence climb will take a lot out of you,” he added. “I’ve dreamed of coming to this race track and just getting to race here; so to win here is unbelievable. I can’t put it into words.”
Briscoe beat a pair of road racing’s best in A.J. Allmendinger and Austin Cindric to claim the hometown win. An exciting, action-packed final 10 laps featuring four lead changes forced Briscoe to use every trick he had. Ultimately, he held off Justin Haley by 1.717s for the victory as the lead pack cars aggressively traded positions on the last lap.
Noah Gragson finished third, followed by Allmendinger and Cindric, who put up the day’s best challenges for Briscoe. Ross Chastain, Justin Allgaier, Alex Labbe, Michael Annett and Preston Pardus completed the top 10. It was Floridian Pardus’ first-ever top-10 finish.
Early in the event, road racing ace Austin Cindric posed a valiant case for this first trophy of the season. After starting 10th he took the lead five laps in and built a commanding six-second lead before the caution that closed out the opening stage. It was Cindric’s fourth stage win of the season and certainly confirmed the pre-race favorite was ready to win.
Cindric’s No. 22 Team Penske Ford came out of the pits second to Chase Briscoe’s SHR Ford, but Cindric was called for jumping the ensuing restart. Cindric told his team on the radio that he was hit from behind at the start and did not take off early. But NASCAR officials reviewed the footage and ruled that Cindric would have to serve the penalty.
The green flag stop dropped him back to 31st running position, but he worked his way back to seventh by the start of the final stage.
That position was right behind another of the sport’s strongest road course drivers, A.J. Allmendinger – who also had a mid-race NASCAR penalty after pitting too early during the race’s first caution.
Their race back through the field to challenge for the win was predictably compelling, with Allmendinger coming up through the field and taking the lead for two laps (59-60). Briscoe took the lead going into Turn 1 with two laps remaining and contact among the next group of cars allowed Briscoe to pull away in the final two laps.
“The restarts — I was starting on the outside which I didn’t think was the best scenario,” Briscoe said. “It seemed like holes were opening up. I wasn’t very good when guys were right behind me because I needed (room) to be really good. You can’t do that when they are right behind you, especially Allmendinger. He is so good in the braking zones.
“I did give it away in a sense over there. Cindric and him (Allmendinger) started racing pretty hard and that gave me a chance to get back in there, (but then) I threw a slide job into (turns) one and two… I think that was by far the hardest I have run in my life to get a win.”
NASCAR Xfinity Series Race – 9th Annual Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course
Saturday, July 4, 2020
1. (12) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 62.
2. (11) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 62.
3. (8) Noah Gragson, Chevrolet, 62.
4. (30) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 62.
5. (10) Austin Cindric, Ford, 62.
6. (9) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 62.
7. (5) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 62.
8. (22) Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, 62.
9. (2) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 62.
10. (19) Preston Pardus, Chevrolet, 62.
11. (24) Brandon Brown, Chevrolet, 62.
12. (38) Brandon Gdovic, Toyota, 62.
13. (21) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 62.
14. (17) Jade Buford, Chevrolet, 62.
15. (27) Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 62.
16. (26) Myatt Snider, Chevrolet, 62.
17. (4) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 62.
18. (13) Jesse Little #, Chevrolet, 62.
19. (34) Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 62.
20. (7) Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, 62.
21. (28) Stephen Leicht, Toyota, 62.
22. (20) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 62.
23. (36) Josh Bilicki, Toyota, 62.
24. (14) Mike Wallace, Chevrolet, 62.
25. (6) Harrison Burton #, Toyota, 62.
26. (29) Joe Graf Jr #, Chevrolet, 62.
27. (37) Chad Finchum, Toyota, 62.
28. (31) Kody Vanderwal #, Chevrolet, 61.
29. (15) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 61.
30. (33) Matt Mills, Chevrolet, 61.
31. (1) Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 60.
32. (35) Vinnie Miller, Chevrolet, 60.
33. (23) Riley Herbst #, Toyota, 57.
34. (32) Bayley Currey(i), Chevrolet, 54.
35. (25) Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, Axle, 51.
36. (16) Brett Moffitt(i), Chevrolet, 44.
37. (3) Brandon Jones, Toyota, Oil Line, 34.
38. (18) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, Chassis, 9.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 73.885 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 2 Mins, 48 Secs. Margin of Victory: 1.717 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 5 for 15 laps.
Lead Changes: 12 among 8 drivers.
Lap Leaders: J. Burton 0;J. Burton 1;J. Allgaier 2-3;A. Cindric 4-21;B. Jones 22-23;C. Briscoe 24-27;A. Cindric 28-30;C. Briscoe 31-36;R. Sieg 37-38;C. Briscoe 39-53;P. Pardus 54-55;C. Briscoe 56-58;A. Allmendinger 59-60;C. Briscoe 61-62.