How Briscoe found a new home at Gibbs

Chase Briscoe’s signing with Joe Gibbs Racing happened in the blink of an eye.

The timeline starts May 28, when Stewart-Haas Racing announced it would cease operations at the end of the season. Briscoe quickly hopped into action, asking Tony Stewart what the rules of engagement were for talking to other teams. Stewart told the drivers to go ahead and do what they needed to do, so right then and there, Briscoe started texting all of the team presidents that he knew.

“Dave [Alpern] was one of them,” Briscoe said.

Alpern, the president of Joe Gibbs Racing, acknowledged the text that day. Briscoe figured there was no way Gibbs was going to care. But the following afternoon, May 29, Alpern called Briscoe and asked for a Thursday, May 30, breakfast meeting.


“I thought it went OK,” Briscoe said. “I didn’t think it was this incredible thing; I didn’t know if I said all the right things.”

Briscoe didn’t hear anything that Friday as the NASCAR Cup Series traveled to St. Louis. Saturday, June 1, he got a text from an unknown number that said, “Hey, this is Joe. Give me a call.”

Not wanting to fall for a scammer, Briscoe screenshot the text and sent it to Christopher Bell, asking if it was indeed Joe Gibbs. Bell sent a screenshot back of his contact card for Gibbs that confirmed the number.

“I called Joe and it was a quick, less than five-minute phone call,” Briscoe said. “’Hey, we’d love to sit down with you and just get to know you a little bit. You can get to know me.’ That was Sunday of St. Louis, so I met with him after chapel before the race started.”

Gibbs followed up by calling Briscoe that night and told him to leave his Monday morning open. The Hall of Fame team owner knew Briscoe would meet with the Wood Brothers Racing/Team Penske that day, June 3, but wanted Briscoe to sit down with the folks handling the contracts at Gibbs.

“I sat there for four or five hours,” Briscoe said. “I went and met Penske that night. Tuesday, Penske called me again and we discussed what they were willing to do and Tuesday night, JGR sent me an actual contract. Joe called me and said, ‘Hey, we’ll know by Wednesday at 11 a.m. if Martin [Truex Jr.] is coming back. That’s his deadline.’

“He called me, I think it was 10:55, and said ‘Martin is not coming back.’”

Briscoe still met with the Wood Brothers on Wednesday, June 5, out of respect for their organization. The group had driven down from Virginia.

“I left that meeting and drove straight here and signed,” Briscoe said. “So, from the first time meeting them (Gibbs officials) was on a Thursday and I was signed on Wednesday. It happened super, super fast, and that’s crazy looking back on it for sure.”

Truex announced on June 14 in the Iowa Speedway media center that he would not return to full-time competition next season. Gibbs finally made Briscoe’s signing public on June 25. But the news had begun to spread within the industry, and Bell slipped last week in the media center in New Hampshire.

Beginning next season, in a multiyear deal, Briscoe will drive the No. 19 Toyota Camry. Bass Pro Shops will continue as the team’s primary sponsor, and James Small remains the crew chief.

Briscoe, who turns 30 during the offseason, will drive a Toyota for the first time in his career. Gibbs will be the second team owner he’s competed for in the Cup Series.

Story originally appeared on Racer