After such a promising start, where has Chase Briscoe’s mojo gone?

Chase Briscoe

Chase Briscoe had a great start to his second season in the NASCAR Cup Series, racing up front and capturing his first race, but things have changed recently. Or has it?

Chase Briscoe

Briscoe, the 2021 Cup Series rookie of the year, had a rollercoaster first full season, partly thanks to a company-wide downturn in efficiency by his whole Stewart-Haas Racing team.

The introduction of the Next Gen vehicle this season raised a lot of questions for everybody, but Briscoe’s No. 14 Ford squad proved to be strong right away.

He dominated more circuits in the season’s first race at Fontana (20) than he did in his whole rookie season, and then he shone in race No. 4 at Phoenix, when he dominated 101 laps and won his maiden series event.

Briscoe, 27, shot up to 3rd in the rankings after finishing 15th at Atlanta, but aside from a good performance at the Bristol Dirt Race, when he was a contender for the win, his highest result since has been 13th, and he’s plummeted to 13th in points.

Briscoe’s prediction is that his crew isn’t doing exact things properly, not that they’re doing them incorrectly.

Where did the pace go?

“This car it seems like is so temperamental. For us, on the No. 14 car, I felt like we were one of the top five cars the first four or five weeks of the season,” Briscoe said. “Now, we’re struggling to even run 15th.

“This car is just so hit-or-miss and when everybody has the same stuff, if you miss it by one thing, that’s the difference between running fifth and running 20th. I think right now there are only a couple teams that have really hit on something, that continue to do the same thing week-in and week-out and have found speed.

“It’s kind of interesting thing because when everyone had an open playbook, you could go build whatever or go find whatever (to get better). It made it a little easier if you had an advantage to be way better than everybody else. Now, everybody’s on the same playing field and those advantages are now really, really small.”

The differences in performance for Briscoe’s No. 14 squad do not appear to be related to the speedways on the agenda. Indeed , statistically, the outcomes for Briscoe appear to demonstrate the reverse.

“I feel at the beginning of the year, none of them we were really great race tracks for me statistically outside of maybe Fontana. We’re leading laps, earning stage points, running up front, just had really good speed and the car was easy to drive,” he said.

“In the last month-and-a-half, it’s just been a struggle for us to get the car to drive the way we want it to drive. Race track-wise, I would say Dover and Darlington were two of my better race tracks but they were really a struggle for us.”

Briscoe and his crew chief, Johnny Klausmeier, have been perplexed by recent outcomes, but it’s a problem Briscoe thinks his squad is not alone in dealing with this season.

“I don’t know what has necessarily has changed. We probably got away from what we were running in the beginning of the year thinking things were going to be better,” he said.

“I’ll be curious to see how we’re going to be this weekend (at Kansas). I think we’ve been trying to find more speed in the car but it hasn’t really related from a balance standpoint.”

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