Chase Briscoe has gone through three previous winters as a NASCAR Cup Series driver, but this one has had a different feel.
“I think this is by far the most excited I’ve ever been for a race season,” Briscoe said this week on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Briscoe begins his fourth season as a Stewart-Haas Racing driver Sunday in L.A. with the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum. A lot is riding on this season, with Briscoe looking to return to victory lane after breaking through in 2022 for the first time. Of course, doing so would mean a return trip to the postseason, which Briscoe was never close to last year.
The No. 14 team finished 30th in the championship standings with eight top-10 finishes. There were not many highlights. However, Briscoe will point out that the season lost all meaning after a counterfeit part on his car at Charlotte Motor Speedway cost the team 120 points and 25 playoff points.
“I think truthfully, last year with us getting that huge penalty in May, outside of winning a race, we weren’t really racing for anything last year,” said Briscoe in explaining why he is so eager for a fresh start in 2024. “If we were in second or third, it didn’t do anything for us points-wise, so it didn’t feel like we were racing for a whole lot outside of a win. From that standpoint, I’m excited to be back in the mix and have a fresh start and clean slate for everybody; just see where we stack up, and I know what we’re capable of.”
The 29-year-old Briscoe is also eager to lead the way for a new look Stewart-Haas Racing. Alongside Briscoe is Ryan Preece, who enters his second year with the organization. But there are also two new drivers — Noah Gragson, taking over the No. 10 Ford, and Josh Berry starting a rookie campaign in the No. 4 Ford.
Wrapped for Week 1. pic.twitter.com/1xYfMwgEt2
— Stewart-Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) January 31, 2024
“It is a new Stewart-Haas in a sense,” Briscoe said. “There’s a lot of new stuff happening whether it’s the processes we’re going through, there’s new people, obviously new teammates, we’ve got a new logo, new paint on the wall. There’s just a lot of new going around, and I think a lot of positive thoughts and directions that we’re going. Now, if they actually work, I don’t know — we’re about to find out here pretty quickly — but I think just with everything going on, it’s just got me fired up to go this year.
“Even personally, I feel I have a lot to prove this year with Kevin [Harvick] leaving and Aric [Almirola] leaving, I’m now the longest-tenured guy there, and I need to prove my worth to the company. I just feel like I’ve got a lot of pressure on myself this year and I always love racing with pressure. I’m looking forward to it.”
Briscoe feels his status within the organization has given him a chance to find his voice.
“I just feel more comfortable in speaking my mind and bringing up concerns,” he said. “Where in the past I probably would just keep it to myself sometimes because I felt like I wasn’t really the guy to be bringing up stuff, with Kevin and Aric there and how long they’ve been there. But now, being the longest-tenured guy there, I definitely feel like I need to speak up more when I feel something. So, I’ve been trying to do that a little bit more, and the confidence that comes along with that is different.”
Briscoe is the only active Stewart-Haas Racing driver who has won in the Cup Series. Something to watch for this year will be how he can help the team’s collective success by working more as one team with four drivers instead of four separate teams.