TOLEDO, Ohio — Story by Race Chaser Online Mid-Atlantic Correspondent Marshall Gabell — File photo —
Close, but no cigar.
ARCA Racing Series rookie Chase Briscoe has personified that adage to the full extent, having recorded two top-five finishes and three pole awards but having no wins to show for it five races into his debut campaign with Cunningham Motorsports.
Sunday, in the Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care at Toledo Speedway, he furthered that statement after finishing fourth — despite leading over three-quarters of the race and appearing to have the quickest car once again.
“It was definitely frustrating and definitely a heartbreak for the team,” Briscoe explained after the race. “We wanted to get our first win of the season, but overall I’m just thankful and blessed to be in this situation. You win as a team and lose as a team. We will move onto the next one.”
Briscoe sat on pole for the event at the Toledo, Ohio track and wasted no time in shooting to the lead on the initial start, pacing the early laps. After maintaining his advantage, even through a couple restarts, the Mitchell, Indiana native was soon approached with a few challenges from two drivers — both of which would be to no avail.
In the first half of the race, Brian Keselowski, the brother of former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski, appeared to be the main threat against Briscoe. However, Briscoe kept his No. 77 Big Tine Ford in the lead, fending back the No. 5 Keselowski-Gerhart Racing Ford all the while.
Next, following the halfway point, Briscoe was faced with fellow rookie and teammate Myatt Snider, a late model hotshoe and son of NBC Sports personality Marty Snider. This challenge was a little more intense than the previous for Briscoe.
Snider was able to, at one point, utilize the high side in order to get around Briscoe. Although it was a valiant attempt, his effort was short-lived, lasting two laps before Briscoe returned to the race lead.
For the former dirt sprint car standout, Briscoe, a caution with less than 40 laps remaining proved to be his true Achilles heel — and the single thing that kept him from the winners circle.
During the caution sequence, the front runners decided to pit for the final time, minus Bo LeMastus and Gus Dean, who remained on the track. Briscoe’s team was a little slow on the stop, and he exited the pit lane fourth — which meant he would restart sixth.
Clean air proved to be vital. Briscoe was caught back in traffic and was only able to mount a final push to salvage a fourth place finish.
“Track position hurt us, and we got stuck on that outside on the restart,” Briscoe expressed. “We lost a couple spots in the pits, and that just ruined our race. Toledo is line dominant too, [so once] we could not get to the bottom on the start, we lost all that track position.”
Not all was bad, though. Briscoe remains the championship leader and extended his lead over Josh Williams and John Wes Townley, who did not attend Sunday’s race due to commitments with his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team.
“I think we capitalized on as many points as we could get, other than winning,” Briscoe said. “We led the most laps, got the pole and led a lap — which is 15 bonus points right there. All that is going to be big at the end of the season.”
Dwelling on another near-miss is not on Briscoe’s to-do list, however, as he is already preparing to return to the cockpit next weekend for the ARCA 150 presented by Unique Pretzels at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
“I have no experience or anything to [base something off of] going into the road course,” he added. “So, we are just going in there with the mindset: we cannot win the championship there, but we can lose it. We are going in there looking for a top five finish and to keep the car clean.”
About the Writer
Marshall Gabell is the Mid-Atlantic Correspondent for Race Chaser Online, and was also formerly the public relations director for NASCAR Next member Austin Hill. Gabell is currently attending Stephen Decatur High School in Ocean City, Maryland, completing his sophomore year. He is just 15 years old.
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