December 5, 2013 — Audio and story by Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online — As far as potential career progressions go, Chase Briscoe certainly picked one with proven success.
After all, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, and Kyle Larson, among others, have all used sprint cars as a springboard to future stardom at NASCAR’s highest levels.
And there is not a young driver in the next generation with more roots in sprint car racing than Chase Briscoe. His grandfather Richard has been a car owner in the sprint car ranks since the mid-1970s and his father Kevin scored more than 150 wins over the course of a two-decade career. So it was only natural that in time Chase would move into the racing world to follow in his family’s footsteps.
He just sped the progression up a bit.
The young prodigy stepped into his family’s 410 sprint car in 2008, at just 13 years of age, and immediately put the dirt world on notice, finishing 10th in a field of 40 cars in his debut start. A rookie season nothing short of spectacular for Briscoe, at that time one of the youngest full-time sprint car drivers in the country, would net him 8 top five and 17 top ten finishes, proving to his fellow competitors and to onlookers that he wasn’t just a flash in the pan.
And he would continue to impress right down to the end of his rookie year, ultimately turning the sprint car world on its ear when he powered to Victory Lane in his final season start at Paragon Speedway in Indiana. The feat, impressive enough in itself, shattered a long-standing record as Chase became the youngest 410 sprint car winner in history at 13 years of age, eclipsing a mark (14) set by one of his racing heroes, Jeff Gordon.
“That first win was special. Anytime you set a record over someone the caliber of Jeff Gordon, it’s an incredible moment. That was just an exhilarating feeling that day.”
Over the next four years, Briscoe would continue to wheel the family-owned #5 sprint car to multiple top finishes and wins as he slowly expanded his racing out of Indiana and into the midwest scene. But every young racer has a dream, and Chase knew as 2013 rolled around exactly where he wanted to try and go. He wanted to make the leap to NASCAR.
But that dream was easier dreamt than made a reality. With funding sparse it seemed impossible that Briscoe would be able to make the leap. That realization in mind, the Indiana native entered the PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge sponsored by Michael Waltrip Racing earlier this year, hoping on a prayer that he might be able to get his name out there and maybe get an opportunity.
He never expected to be one of the finalists selected to get a stock car break.
“I never, never expected to get that phone call,” Briscoe said as he recalled the moment. “It was almost surreal in a way, like ‘is this really happening to me?’ It was amazing to finally have that chance to realize the dream and try to follow the same path as some of the greats.”
As part of the PEAK program, Briscoe earned three NASCAR K&N Pro Series West (KNPSW) starts with powerhouse west coast car owner Bill McAnally, and he showed the potential that several before him have shown. The high point came in his debut at NAPA Speedway in September, where he finished 8th in his first-ever pavement start, driving the famed NAPA #20 that brought Eric Holmes two of his three KNPSW titles.
“That was a great run we had at Albuquerque, to finish 8th, top ten and on the lead lap in our first start. We certainly turned a few heads I feel like.”
Had it not been for circumstances beyond his control, the Indiana native might have turned even more heads. Briscoe was running solidly in the top ten again in his second start at Kern County Raceway Park in October, but problems in the latter stages of the race derailed his hopes for another top ten mark and Briscoe would ultimately finish 13th, a lap down. His day at Phoenix to round out the year was squelched before it really began, after he was caught up in an opening lap melee that put him out of the race, scored 27th.
“Yeah, we had some rough edges after the good start. I really feel like we were in position for a good run at Bakersfield before we had some things bite us late in the race, and the Phoenix deal was out of our hands. We just got collected in that one. But we still had speed; we still showed we had what it takes to run up front with the veterans, so I hope someone will look at that and maybe give us a second chance.”
Right now, he’s hoping for that second chance. Briscoe doesn’t currently have a deal put together for 2014, either in NASCAR or with his family sprint car operation. He says he’d like to run the full K&N West schedule in 2014, but he’ll take any chance to get behind the wheel again. He doesn’t want to be one of the kids that never got a second chance. He wants to prove that he belongs.
“If I’m blessed enough to get another opportunity, I want to make the most of it. I’ve seen some of my heroes make this road to NASCAR work. I want to be the next one to realize the dream.”
And right now, Chase Briscoe has proved that with a dream and the passion to realize it, anything can be made possible.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of NASCAR
Listen in as our Jacob Seelman sat down for an exclusive interview with Chase as he talks about his sprint car roots and his stock car transition: