Chase Briscoe’s impressive nine-win NASCAR Xfinity Series campaign in 2020 ended with a ninth-place finish Saturday night in the season-ending Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200 at Phoenix Raceway. Briscoe was among the Championship 4 drivers competing for the series title, and the driver of the No. 98 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang started the 200-lap contest around the 1-mile, desert oval from a position of strength. He lined up second and promptly took the lead from fellow Championship 4 contender Justin Allgaier on lap seven and then held it for the next 27 circuits. Allgaier briefly reassumed the point on lap 34, only to have Briscoe take the top spot back a lap later and hold it through the end of the stage. But in the second stage, Briscoe’s No. 98 machine was too loose for him to be as aggressive as he wanted. While he stayed amongst the top-10, running up front with the leaders proved elusive. This was exemplified on lap 199 when Briscoe spun in turn four, setting up a green-white-checkered finish that extended the race six laps past its originally-schedule 200-lap distance. The spin sent Briscoe to pit road for four new tires and fuel, and after lining up in 11th as the last car on the lead lap, he rallied his way back into the top-10 to pick up his 22nd top-10 of the season. And despite not earning the coveted Xfinity Series championship trophy, Briscoe’s 2020 season remains stout, as his nine wins and 1,032 laps led are the most of any Xfinity Series driver this season. Briscoe will enjoy a short respite before advancing to the elite NASCAR Cup Series in 2021 where he will pilot the No. 14 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang.
Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 98 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:“It was just a frustrating day. Phoenix is, by far, not my best racetrack. We started the race and just leading laps here I was like, ‘Wow, this is different.’ I was so loose at the beginning of the race, and as the night came, I was just getting freer and freer. I don’t know how many times I about wrecked into turn one and would end up hitting the wall. I’ve got to do a lot better job here. There’s something about this place that I just really struggle at, so I’ve got a lot of homework to do.
“It’s definitely frustrating to finish fourth in the championship after the year we had. But to win nine races, it’s been a phenomenal year. I’m happy that we were able to just make the final four with our HighPoint.com Ford Mustang. I’m just thankful to be driving in NASCAR, honestly.
“I’m obviously looking forward to next year, but this one hurts. Anytime you can win nine races and finish fourth in the championship – it isn’t what you wanted. But we’ll keep our heads high because I’m just proud of the whole team. To be able to work with me these last two-and-a-half years from where we started to where we are now has made a huge difference. So, I’m just thankful to be driving for Stewart-Haas Racing and to be coming back next year with them in the NASCAR Cup Series.”
Notes: ● Briscoe finished the season with nine wins, 16 top-fives and 22 top-10s. He has a total of 11 wins, 30 top-fives and 52 top-10 finishes in 83 career Xfinity Series starts.
● Briscoe won Stage 1 and finished third in Stage 2. He finished the season with a series-best 13 stage wins.
● Austin Cindric won the Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200 to score the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship. It was his eighth career Xfinity Series victory, his sixth of the season and his first at the Phoenix.
● Cindric’s margin of victory over second-place Noah Gragson was .162 of a second.
● There were eight caution periods for a total of 47 laps.● Only 11 of the 37 drivers in the Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200 finished on the lead lap.