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Making the NASCAR playoffs is not Chase Briscoe's toughest battle

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Briscoe, who drives the No. 14 Ford for SHR, is the only one of the organization’s four drivers who has run consistent enough so far this season to have a shot at making the 2024 Cup playoffs without a victory.

His team-mates – Josh Berry, Ryan Preece and Noah Gragson – will all need a win in the next 10 races to gain a berth. Briscoe would love a win as well but still has a plausible path through points to make the 16-driver field.

"We’re trying to figure out how we’re going to provide for our families next year" - Chase Briscoe

Entering this weekend’s first-ever Cup race at Iowa Speedway, Briscoe is 17th in the standings but 27 points behind Bubba Wallace, who currently holds the final playoff spot on points.

It was never going to be easy, but the unique timing and circumstances of the SHR announcement have added several additional challenges to Briscoe’s path to comPete for a series championship.

First, is the uncertainty of Briscoe’s own driving career.

The end of SHR

While still comPeting each week and nearly two-thirds of a season still to go, the 29-year-old native of Mitchell, Ind., must now also begin the process of securing a new home with which to continue his NASCAR career.

He only was able to start that effort on May 28 – the day he was informed of SHR’s future by team co-owner Tony Stewart.

“That was the first thing I actually asked when Tony sat all the drivers down and asked if we had any questions,” Briscoe explained. “I said, ‘What does this mean for us as far as being able to talk to other teams?’ And he said, ‘You guys are free to do whatever you want.’

“So, literally while I was sitting in the room, I started texting different people just letting them know, ‘Hey, I’m going to be available and need to try to find something.’

“I think you still are trying to put yourself out there and let people know that you’re available and go talk to them and meet them and do whatever you have to do while also trying to perform on the race track and show your worth.”

But therein lies a potentially far more challenging problem Briscoe – and his team-mates for that matter – now face.

Their best hope to secure new rides comes in performing at their best. Performing at their best requires the members of their respective teams to do the same.

The problem? Every member of SHR’s NASCAR teams now knows they need a new job by early November.

How do you perform at your best while also looking to secure your future? Even worse, how enticing is it to leave for a job now rather than wait five more months and hope for the best?

SHR is in the process of navigating that dynamic and Briscoe said it’s already evident it will test the organization’s resolve.

“I’d be lying if I said we’re not at a disadvantage when we show up at the race track,” Briscoe said. “Every other team that we’re racing against, all they focus on week in and week out is how to make their race car go fast that weekend.

“At our place, we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to provide for our families next year, where we’re going to work next year, and on top of all that, how am I going to get a fast race car to the race track.

“It’s 100 percent a real thing.”

Chase Briscoe, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Performance Racing School Ford Mustang

Chase Briscoe, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Performance Racing School Ford Mustang

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / Motorsport Images

Just two weeks removed from SHR’s decision Briscoe said every member of his No. 14 team has already taken interviews for new positions.

While SHR is offering financial incentives for employees to remain through the end of the season, there will be some who decide to leave early – or already have.

“I was literally over at the shop an hour ago and one of the guys told me this is his last week,” Briscoe said during a Zoom call with reporters on Tuesday. “He’s going to work somewhere else, so it’s real.

“I think if we can survive that first four or five week stretch, I think if they stay those first five weeks after, then they’re probably in it for the long haul. But then I think towards the end of the season it’s going to kind of ramp back up and guys are going to be trying to make sure they have something.

“I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a concern that I do think it’s going to be really hard for us to potentially get cars to the race track how we want to, just from a people standpoint.”

Embracing the challenge ahead

There is, however, one thing that may help – the one thing that generally helps solve most problems in racing – success on the track.
Winning a race would lock Briscoe in the playoffs – the same goes for his teammates – and doing SO can produce work bonuses and success also shows potential new employers the value of those on the team, which ends up better for all involved.

“That’s what I told our guys when all of this went down,” Briscoe said. “I said, ‘Look, at the end of the day we can pout and whine about it, but the circumstances aren’t going to change. All that we can do is control what we can control.

“I can assure you that if we’re winning races and running up front, it’s going to be way easier to find a job than the guys that aren’t winning races and running up front.’ That’s kind of what we’ve been trying to focus on.

“Truthfully, the last five or six weeks has been a struggle for us, but hopefully we can turn that around these next couple of weeks and kind of get back on track.”

Read Also:
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