By Jerry Jordan, Editor
Stewart-Haas Racing has named Chase Briscoe as the new driver of the No. 14 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang beginning in 2021.
Briscoe – a third-generation racer – moves up from the NASCAR Xfinity Series, where he has scored nine wins, so far, this season and 11 wins across his Xfinity Series career. Briscoe is locked in a battle for the series championship and now the Indiana native will follow in his idol’s – Tony Stewart – tire tracks, behind the wheel of the No. 14 machine. The same car Stewart drove to his final NASCAR Cup Series Championships in 2011.
“Growing up in Indiana and racing sprint cars, the guy I always looked up to was Tony Stewart,” Briscoe said. “To be able to drive for him is a dream come true,” Briscoe said. “Tony and Gene (Haas) have built something really special in Stewart-Haas Racing. Being a part of it in the Xfinity Series and now, the NASCAR Cup Series has always been my goal. HighPoint and Ford created this opportunity, and my parents, my wife, and Briggs and Beth Cunningham, helped position me for this opportunity. Their support means everything, and it’s all the fuel I need to compete at the Cup level.”
Stewart reminisced of how his and Briscoe’s racing paths have followed much of the same line through their careers. Stewart also hails for Indiana and made a name for himself in the open-wheel ranks around the country. Known for spotting talent at all racing levels, Stewart competed with the 25-year-old driver’s dad in the past but gives credit to Ford for their efforts to help recognize Briscoe’s driving skills.
“Chase has worked incredibly hard to make his mark in NASCAR and has earned this promotion to the NASCAR Cup Series. Thanks to HighPoint and Ford, we were able to make it happen,” said Tony Stewart, co-owner of SHR with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas. “Without Ford seeing him early on and recognizing his talent and HighPoint backing his efforts in Xfinity and now Cup, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to bring him into our system. Since we’ve gotten together with Ford and HighPoint, we’ve been able to do great things with Chase and I feel there are more great things ahead of us.
“I raced with Chase’s dad in USAC sprint cars and in non-wing cars, so to see Chase come up through the ranks like I did, brings back memories. When it comes to the 14 car, I obviously have a passion for having dirt drivers behind the wheel. Having had Clint Bowyer in the car and now Chase, it’s special, but also practical. With the lower horsepower package they have in the Cup Series, you have to run these cars a lot freer, and I think that suits a driver with a dirt background. Chase is a guy who would much rather have a loose racecar versus a very tight race car that won’t turn. I always felt better in a Cup car than I did in an Xfinity Series car, and I think he’ll be in the same position.”
HighPoint, a leading customer service and technology solutions company, joined Briscoe in late 2019 as a primary partner of his No. 98 Ford Mustang in the Xfinity Series. It provided a breakthrough opportunity for Briscoe’s career, and the company has stepped up again in 2020, serving as the anchor partner of SHR’s No. 14 team and enabling Briscoe’s promotion to the elite NASCAR Cup Series.
“Chase has to be one of the most humble and grateful guys in the sport and he has worked incredibly hard for this opportunity. We’re extremely proud to be a part of his journey from Xfinity to Cup,” said Mike Mendiburu, President and CEO of HighPoint. “Everyone has seen his talent and he has combined it with incredible humility and an unrelenting work ethic. Simply put, performance without character is not important to us. Chase, however, has both in spades. It’s why he’s ready for the NASCAR Cup Series and why we are so honored to support him.”
SHR’s other co-owner, Gene Haas, said he has no doubt that Briscoe can get to victory lane and that is something he wants to see in the drivers racing for him and Stewart. He added that Briscoe is not only talented behind the wheel but a humble representative that represents sponsor interests very well.
“Wins are my benchmark, and Chase has done a lot of winning this year,” Haas said. “His stats alone merit his place in Cup.”
Briscoe’s first time behind the wheel of a racecar came in 2001 in a quarter-midget, where he won his first heat race and then won the feature event later that evening. Briscoe then moved to mini sprints and at 13-years-old, he got behind the wheel of a 410 sprint car where, in his first race, he finished 10th in a 40-car field. In a rookie season that saw 37 starts, Briscoe racked up eight top-five and 17 top-10 finishes, including a win in the last race of the season. That win was record-breaking as he unseated NASCAR Hall of Famer and four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon as the youngest person to win a 410 sprint car race. Briscoe continued to race 410 sprint cars in the Midwest region, turning heads and moving into stock cars. Cunningham Motorsports hired Briscoe in 2016 to pilot its No. 77 Ford for a full-time drive in ARCA and Briscoe responded by winning six races and the championship that season by a whopping 535 points.
Briscoe has thrived in his transition to NASCAR, which was boosted by that ARCA title. He advanced to the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series in 2017, where he earned four poles and won the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His 10 top-fives and 14 top-10s put Briscoe in the playoffs and he ended the season sixth in points and scored rookie-of-the-year and most-popular-driver honors.