Chase Briscoe finished fourth Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, and after the day he went through the Stewart-Haas Racing driver is probably not alone in having no idea how.
During the first round of pit stops in the GEICO 500, under green, Briscoe spun at pit road entry. In doing so, the right front tire blew on the No. 14 Ford, and the strange sequence of events left him stuck in place and spinning his wheels — literally.
“It was weird,” Briscoe said. “It felt like (the world’s slowest donut). I felt like I was going to be a meme eventually or something. It was weird; I just literally couldn’t move. I went from first gear to reverse up to third gear, just trying anything I could, and it was definitely just a helpless feeling.”
The SHR driver did a few small circles on pit road, leaving a burnout mark that a race winner would be proud of. But no matter how hard he tried and how much smoke came from the tires, Briscoe’s car didn’t move, and NASCAR eventually had to throw the caution on lap 44 in order for the car to be pushed to its pit stall.
“It was funny — I think the pit box that I was spinning out in, all their pit crew guys had their phones out and were videoing it,” Briscoe chuckled. “It was embarrassing. I was just sitting there doing circles in front of them. Just a weird circumstance.
“Honestly, super lucky we didn’t go three laps down there. If I went three down, there is no way I get back on the lead lap. Just a lucky break that we ended up being two (laps) down. And when I was out there, I was thinking about how lucky I was I didn’t get a speeding penalty because I was spinning out pretty fast, and that would have been another lap down too. It honestly just all worked out today for us.”
The initial spin coming to pit road was a conscious decision.
“I feel like at Daytona, and even here in the past, I’ve been able to out-brake so many guys coming down there,” said Briscoe. “I just didn’t do a very good job of getting my brakes…heated up, and also, I didn’t set my brake bias to where I normally have it. I was coming with so much speed I was either going to destroy the No. 42 or spin myself out, and I decided to spin myself out.
“Honestly, the wheel kind of ripped out of my hand anyways; I don’t think I would have saved it regardless if I had my normal situation. But I felt like it was smart not to destroy the No. 42 there coming to pit road.”
The incident cost Briscoe two laps. He got the first lap back at the end of the first stage on lap 62 as he ran 37th. He got his second lap back under a lap 143 caution for a multi-car crash in Turn 3.
Briscoe’s long day was exacerbated by his still-injured hand. A broken finger the week leading into the Bristol dirt race led to surgery last Monday. Sunday at Talladega was the first race that Briscoe experienced pain problems.
“Not good,” Briscoe said of his hand after the race. “It’s weird — the last two weeks I’ve had absolutely zero issues, and with the pins in there, it’s like any time anything touches one of those pins, it just is excruciating pain. I was literally screaming in the car at some points because it hurt so bad.
“In the past, I’ve had two splints: one on top, one on the bottom. I think I need to go to one on the bottom now because the one on the top kind of hits that pin a lot. I was not really worried about Dover or any of the rest of the races coming up, but definitely a little more…not worried, but I guess I need to be a lot more particular about what I do going into this week to make sure I get it as good as I possibly can because it was definitely an issue today.
“Some of it, I don’t know if you have more time to think here so you notice it more too, but it was definitely not fun today.”
In the end, “the man upstairs” is the only answer Briscoe had for his day ending the way it did.
“Honestly, I was praying every 10 laps not to get in a wreck, and we were super close a lot of the time and able to miss them,” he said. “Overall, a crazy day. It reminded me, honestly, a lot of the playoffs last year where stuff would happen and we would just continue to stay tough and battle and try to make the most out of our day. We had a race within a race with me and (Michael) McDowell being two laps down trying to get that one lucky dog, and we were able to get it.
“I thought we were going to be really good at the end of stage two, and then Joey (Logano) — with that speeding penalty — we caught him with like four to go, and (Austin) Cindric kind of let him in, and it took away our chance at the lucky dog, and I was kind of worried we were going to be stuck one down as it seemed nobody was really wrecking, and was able to obviously get back on the lead lap. I think because of pitting a lap later and being stuck so far back there, we had more fuel than a lot of those guys.
“Yeah, crazy day. I think that last restart, I started 10th and was up to third, then back to 14th, and then back to fourth. It was all over the place. Just thankful, truthfully, that we didn’t wreck. My hand was terrible today. It was so bad. I was really worried about, if I did crash, what it would do. We move on to Dover. Thankful we made it through today — a day we probably didn’t deserve to finish fourth, but we did.”