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Briscoe Becomes Winner At CMS

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 29 2018

Eventual winner Chase Briscoe in the No. 98 takes the inside line on Kaz Grala heacing in to a turn during the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday. (RacinToday/HHP photo Harold Hinson)

CONCORD, N.C. – For Chase Briscoe and Justin Marks, Saturday’s Drive for the Cure 200 on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 2.28-mile, 17-turn road course marked milestones in each competitor’s career.

Briscoe won his first-ever Xfinity race, finishing 1.478 seconds ahead of Marks. At age 37, it was Marks’ final NASCAR Xfinity race.

“I was holding back tears the last couple of laps,” admitted Briscoe, a former Sprint Car driver. “I started praying on the backstretch. I don’t think anyone expected me to win.

“I felt a lot like I was in a Sprint Car today. I just tried to keep the tires hooked up at all times. I was a little sideways, but I just tried to keep the rear tires under me. Running Eldora (dirt track) this year helped quite a bit because it related on corner exits.”   

  A Ford development driver, Briscoe has competed in NASCAR Xfinity and truck races this year as well as IMSA events. He won the Eldora Dirt Derby truck race, but his Xfinity season has been lackluster. In fact, prior to the Charlotte race Briscoe’s best finish had been ninth at Chicago and Indianapolis. The 2016 ARCA champion considered it a D- season prior to Saturday’s race. With his victory, he upgraded his season to a C-.

“This year has not been, by my standards, anywhere where it needs to be,” Briscoe said. “We’ve wrecked a lot of race cars … so I was really down on myself personally, (especially) on the Xfinity side. I feel like my stock, personally, has went down because of how we’ve run at other race tracks and getting caught up in wrecks. I couldn’t believe I finally led a lap on a road course because it has been such a struggle for me.”

Briscoe’s victory came in a Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste Ford and for the Indiana whose hero was Tony Stewart, that made the victory that much sweeter.

“To get a call from him (Stewart) in victory lane, to put that name in victory lane with that team, is just so unbelievable,” Briscoe said. “It was pretty special getting that call from him.”

Briscoe doesn’t know where he will compete in 2019, but for the driver who has slept on couches and volunteered with race teams to pursue his dream of driving in NASCAR’s Cup Series, he believes “wherever the Lord places me is where I need to be.”

While the 23-year-old Briscoe pursues his driving career, Marks sees his future hinging on other business opportunities in the sport.

“I have some pretty lofty career ambitions on the business side of this sport,” said Marks, who qualified 31st for Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400, his final NASCAR race. “I have to focus on that 100 percent. I want to reinvent myself as a professional.”

Neither Briscoe nor Marks are in the Xfinity playoffs. Austin Cindric, who finished third, was the highest finishing playoff driver. However, he’s still in jeopardy heading into next weekend’s cutoff race at Dover. Cindric is ninth, nine points behind eighth-place Ross Chastain. The top eight drivers will advance. Christopher Bell, who won the opening playoff race at Richmond, continues to lead the standings with Daniel Hemric second, 33 points in arears. Hemric finished 10th Saturday after failing to complete the frontstretch chicane while in second and closing on Briscoe. That resulted in a stop-and-go penalty that dropped him outside the top five.  

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 29 2018
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