Welcome Chase Briscoe, first time series winner and 200th driver to post a win in the Cup series.
And this wasn’t a fluke win nor did Briscoe “back” into this win. This was a race from the front kind of day where he led 101 of the final laps.
He also had to hold serve after two late restarts holding off Kevin Harvick, Ross Chastain, Tyler Reddick and early race leader Ryan Blaney. And speaking of restarts – where else in NASCAR do the drivers jump out to 5- and 6-wide using the apron as racing surface? Sure, apron racing happens at a few tracks but nothing like you see at Phoenix.
Briscoe finished 2nd in Stage 1 won by William Byron who keeps showing up with fast cars. He finished 8th in Stage 2 which was won by pole sitter Ryan Blaney. But the final stage is where Briscoe started to shine as he drove to the front while many other drivers started to struggle. Blaney looked like a sure winner when he developed a vibration in Stage 2 that kept him out of hunt for the rest of the day even though he managed a 4th place finish.
At the end, it was Briscoe leading a trio of drivers who are looking for their first Cup win. Ross Chastain and Tyler Reddick rounded out the top three and it was fun to see all three young drivers race for the win and keep it clean.
Briscoe joins Austin Cindric as young drivers who have broken through with their first win in the Cup series in this young season so far. Right now, the Top 10 is dominated by young drivers. What I call the former Young Guns are veterans Joey Logano and Kyle Busch running with the next gen young guns Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson who are in the thick of the points battle with grizzled veterans like Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick. And then you have the “new” young guns of Briscoe, Cindric and Chastain which give us quite the Top 10 in the points right now.
Along with the new car, I think this is starting off to be one heck of a race season. There are still some issues with the tires that teams are working to figure out. Another car lost a complete tire in race and during a slide, the new tires seem to flatten and blow pretty easily. Maybe that is why NASCAR is still having a competition yellow at lap 25? Maybe? Otherwise, with all the practice time teams are getting in, I really don’t see a reason to have a comp yellow. And you can bet your bottom dollar that Atlanta will have a comp yellow since this is an entirely new racing surface.
Good on ya, mate.
- Chase Briscoe (P1) got his first win in the famous 14.
- Ross Chastain (P2) and Tyler Reddick (P3) raced clean when it would have been easy to drive like maniacs and wreck the field at the end.
- Ryan Blaney (P4) managed to hang tough. He’ll win soon enough.
- Kurt Busch (P5) is finding his way up front with his new team.
- Kevin Harvick (P6) looked like he had more to offer but the young drivers up front had a lead they weren’t going to relinquish.
- Kyle Busch (P7) managed a Top 10 when it looked like he might “luck out” of a decent finish.
- Joey Logano (P8) led four laps but was never a threat to win.
- Daniel Suarez (P9) nabbed another Top 10 but pissed off Austin Dillon while he did it.
- Chris Buescher (P10) rounded out the Top 10 with a decent run.
So you had a bad day.
- Martin Truex, Jr. (P35) didn’t qualify all that well and then had a right front go down that sent him hard into the wall.
- Kyle Larson (P34) dropped an engine after starting at the rear and working his way to the front.
- Chase Elliott (P11) led 50 laps but once he got into traffic he wasn’t the same.
- Denny Hamlin (P13) stated outside pole but quickly went backwards.
- Alex Bowman (P14) couldn’t follow up better on his Vegas win.
- William Byron (P20) won Stage 1 then kind of disappeared.
- Austin Dillon (P21) might have finished Top 10 but for his unexpected run in with Suarez.
Next up: Atlanta
Atlanta is all new with new pavement and progressive banking. Ryan Blaney is the defending race winner and he has had a fast car so far. Kurt Busch won here in July. This SHOULD be a good race for Joe Gibbs Racing. Kyle Busch and Martin Truex, Jr. have 4 Top 10 finishes here in the last 6 races. The most recent winners are Kurt Busch (1), Ryan Blaney (1), Brad Keselowski (2) and Kevin Harvick (2).
Seeing Keselowski run up front will be unexpected since he has been struggling with his new team. If Harvick can continue to improve and have something for the race leader, he could contend. He needs a little more speed and clean air, something he hasn’t had a lot of lately.
We’ll see what the Hendrick drivers bring this week on the progressive banking. They have shown good speed and this may suit their style. Especially that Kyle Larson guy.
That’s all I have, stay safe and keep the shiny side up. Leave your thoughts and comments below!
(Featured photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images/NASCAR Media)