● HighPoint was founded in 1996 on three principles – honesty, integrity and trust. These bedrock convictions have made HighPoint a leading IT infrastructure and solutions company, and it has built upon this foundation by putting into practice 33 fundamentals known as The HighPoint Way. HighPoint Fundamental No. 27, Embrace Change, is particularly apt for Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 14 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Cup Series. The 26-year-old racer from Mitchell, Indiana, has plenty of “new” in front of him after Stewart-Haas Racing promoted him from the stepping-stone NASCAR Xfinity Series to the elite NASCAR Cup Series. Briscoe has a new crew, a new car and a host of new competition as he embarks upon his rookie season. There is some familiarity, however, as it was HighPoint that backed Briscoe in his nine-win season last year in the Xfinity Series and made it possible for him to advance to the Cup Series as the anchor partner on the No. 14 Ford Mustang. HighPoint Value No. 27 says, “Change provides us with unique opportunities for competitive advantage and pushes us to grow. Be excited about the possibilities that change brings.” Briscoe wears HighPoint Value No. 27 like a suit of armor as he enters Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway for his Cup Series debut in the 63rd Daytona 500.
● It was a chance encounter that led Briscoe to a nine-win season in the Xfinity Series and, now, the NASCAR Cup Series. Briscoe’s dad, Kevin, was in Las Vegas in November 2019 for the annual SEMA show. Kevin was walking to dinner on the sidewalk of The Strip wearing a hat stitched with the No. 98 – his son’s Xfinity Series car number. A stranger walking past Kevin on the sidewalk called out, “Hey, No. 98! Chase Briscoe! Nice hat!” Kevin stopped and they started talking, whereupon the man said he was a big Chase Briscoe fan. The man was Mike Mendiburu, CEO of HighPoint. Mike said to Kevin, “I love Chase’s humility and the way he conducts himself. He’s a great ambassador for the sport and if there’s ever anything I can do for him, from how to speak to executives, answer questions on business or sponsorship, here’s my card. He can call me anytime.” Kevin gave the card to Chase, who gave it to Mike Verlander, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Stewart-Haas Racing. Fast forward to Jan. 21, 2020 when HighPoint announced it would be the primary sponsor of Briscoe and the No. 98 Xfinity Series team of Stewart-Haas Racing. Briscoe went on to have a career year, making him the obvious choice to replace the retiring Clint Bowyer in the No. 14 Ford Mustang in 2021. The iconic blue-and-white colors of HighPoint that emblazoned Briscoe in 2020 remain with him in 2021.
● Running for rookie-of-the-year honors is nothing new for Briscoe. He was the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie of the year and the 2019 Xfinity Series rookie of the year. A prelude of Briscoe’s rookie prowess came way back in 2001. Driving a quarter midget – his first racecar of any kind – Briscoe won his first heat race and then won the feature event later that evening. Briscoe moved on to mini sprints and, when he was 13, stepped into a 410 sprint car. In his first race, he finished 10th in a 40-car field. And in a rookie season that saw 37 starts, Briscoe racked up eight top-five and 17 top-10 finishes, including a win in the last race of the season where he broke NASCAR Hall of Famer and four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon’s record as being the youngest person to win a 410 sprint car race.
● Briscoe will make his unofficial NASCAR Cup Series debut at 12:05 pm. ET on Wednesday, Feb. 10 when he drives the No. 14 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang onto Daytona’s 2.5-mile oval for the first practice session of 2021. Following that 50-minute practice will be single-lap qualifying for the Daytona 500, where the two fastest cars will be locked into the 40-car field.
● Qualifying sets the field for the Duel – twin 150-mile qualifying races that determines the starting grid for the 63rd Daytona 500. Odd-numbered drivers are in the first Duel and even-numbered drivers are in the second Duel.
● Briscoe has made six previous starts at Daytona – four in the Xfinity Series and one apiece in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and in the ARCA Racing Series. He has started within the top-10 in five of those starts, with his best being a third-place qualifying effort in the 2016 ARCA season-opener. His best finish is third, earned twice – August 2020 in the Xfinity Series and February 2017 in the Truck Series.
● Briscoe will trade his firesuit for a business suit during the ARCA race on Feb. 13. He’ll join the FOX broadcast team in the booth as an analyst during its live coverage of the 80-lap race. Briscoe is the 2016 ARCA champion, a title he won with a commanding 535-point lead thanks to a series-best six wins. The ARCA race gets underway at 1:30 p.m. ET on FS1.
You’re making your NASCAR Cup Series debut in the Daytona 500. How does that feel?
“I think it will be different than what other guys have experienced in the past just because it’s not the sold-out grandstands we’re used to, and prerace will probably be toned down a little. It probably won’t hit me as hard, but I’m also a pretty emotional guy. The Daytona 500 is such a prestigious event and a smaller group of fans isn’t going to change that. It means a lot to think that I get to do this. My family gets to sit in the stands and watch me race in the biggest race in NASCAR. I got emotional my first time running at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and I’ll probably tear up at the Daytona 500, as well, just knowing that I’m about to run that race. No matter how different it looks, it’s going to be special. It’s something that I never thought I would get to do. Hopefully, I get to do many, many more, but just getting to savor that moment of racing in one Daytona 500 is going to be special. Whether it’s full capacity or a third of the people there, it’s still the Daytona 500 and it’s still crazy to think I’m going to be running that race.”
What is your goal for the Daytona 500?
“I’m going there to win, for sure, but I would love to just finish all 500 miles. In order to win any race, you have to do that. I just want to try to get as much experience as I can. If I go out there and wreck 100 miles into the race, that’s 400 miles I didn’t get of driving this new Cup car and getting to be around these guys, earning their trust and just learning how they race. I want to finish, above anything else, and I feel like if you finish you have a really good shot at winning the race. It seems the past couple of years there’s only 10 to 15 cars even out there at the end of this deal because so many guys get torn up and wrecked. Finishing is the first part, all 500 miles, but truthfully I’m going there to win that race. That’s what Stewart-Haas Racing hired me to do and that’s why HighPoint.com supports me. I’m a rookie, but that doesn’t mean I’m not capable of winning the race. I’m going to go there and try to win. I’m going to put my best effort forward and to win the race. So the first goal is to finish all 500 miles and then hopefully I’ll be there at the end and in position to try to make a move to win the Daytona 500.”
It has been just over seven years since you packed up and moved from Indiana to North Carolina to pursue your dream of becoming a NASCAR driver, and we are now a little more than a week out from your NASCAR Cup Series debut. Which memories stand out the most from this journey?
“There were a lot of emotions that kind of hit when I saw the reminder that it had been seven years. It was seven years ago, but it feels like yesterday. I remember the day I left Indiana. I was so excited to start a new journey, but also so nervous and really didn’t know what I was getting into. I was fresh out of high school and, right before I left, my mom was trying to teach me how to do the laundry because she had always done it for me. I was green to everything. I never had a credit card or a debit card and left with $150 in cash, just pretty much thrown into the world and trying to figure it out. I knew two people in North Carolina when I started to walk into different shops and offer my time as a volunteer, and every shop I went to I tried to make it obvious that I wanted to eventually drive. I didn’t necessarily have a timeline on when I would go back home if I hadn’t gotten anything, and then it got to the point I had been here for two years and didn’t have anything. The day I decided to go back home, I had been on the road for a few hours when I got the call from Cunningham Motorsports about going to a test session. That’s what started everything. There were a lot of ups and downs through the years with a lot of moments that were breakthroughs for the next step in my career. The most recent was being three days away from not having anything lined up for the 2020 season and HighPoint.com deciding to come onboard. That was the beginning of January 2020 and now we’re sitting here less than two weeks away from the 2021 Daytona 500, my first Cup race, and HighPoint.com is going to be on the car.
“There have been so many doors that were so close to closing and so many doors that probably shouldn’t have been opened to begin with. I just think of all the people who were willing to give me an opportunity when I didn’t have a resume and certainly didn’t have any money to bring to the table. Now I’m getting ready to drive in the Daytona 500 for the team I’ve always dreamed of racing for and, even more specifically, the car I cheered for growing up. It has been a crazy ride for sure and it is still a bit unbelievable that I get to do this.”
How do you prepare for a season where you’ll be doing a lot of learning compared to last year when you were a threat to win every week?
“I just have to try to keep it in perspective. I know I’m going to be humbled, without a doubt. I know that there are going to be a lot of times where it will to be a learning day and that’s something I’m really excited to experience. I’ll get to see where I need to get better after racing against 25 to 30 guys who can win week in and week out. They have so much more experience than me and have been in so many of these scenarios and situations that I’ve never been in, so being around them and just learning from what they do is going to be huge. There are a couple of variables that I know I’ll have to work on – the length of the races, pit road is going to be way busier than anything I’ve ever experienced, and there will be more green-flag pit stops. In the Xfinity Series, I didn’t make a lot of green-flag pit stops, whereas in the Cup Series I’m going to be doing a couple every race. Those are the things I’m the most concerned about trying to learn. Taking care of the car with the steel body will be important. You can’t touch the wall at all or your day is done, but in the Xfinity car you could bang off of the wall a couple of times and it would still be OK. How the car drives will be another big difference from what I’m used to. Once the season begins, we’ll really see where I stack up. You never know if you’re going to be a 25th-place guy, a 15th-place guy, a fifth-place guy, but I’m excited to see how I compare and where I need to try and get better.”
How instrumental have guys like Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola been in getting you ready?
“They’ve been very helpful. All three of those guys have such a great amount of experience. All three come from different racing backgrounds and have different driving styles, so I’ve really tried to pick their brains about what to do in certain situations. They know how these tracks transition through a 400- or 500-mile race and that’s something that I don’t necessarily know. I’m also relying a lot on Cole (Custer) to get an idea of how exactly to transition from Xfinity to Cup. I’m trying to be as prepared as I can be and I have three really good teammates and an owner who have done it and understand what will help the most, so I’m trying to use those guys to my advantage. They’ve been great about helping to prepare me the best they can because the better I run, the better the whole company is going to run. Everybody has an interest in each other’s success, and they’ve all done a really good job of making me feel welcome as one of the guys.”