The 2022 Cup Series season was significant for Chase Briscoe. He reached the playoffs after winning his first career race, and he was within reach of a championship four appearance. Now he has identified some important work that he must do during the offseason.
Briscoe met with media members after Cup Series qualifying at Phoenix Raceway, and he provided some insight into his up-and-down Cup Series campaign. He explained that he made progress as a driver, but he also noted that he needs to put together some complete performances.
“I would say just try to run better races from start to finish,” Briscoe said during his media availability. “I feel like in the regular season, we would run really good starts to the races, but we would finish the race.
“Then in the playoffs, we got a terrible start to the race, but we would finish really well. Just trying to put the whole race together and the whole weekend together. I feel like I’ve gotten better at kind of understanding what my car needs going into the race, but I still struggle with that. I feel like that comes with experience.”
Stewart-Haas Racing Has ‘Bulletin Board Material’
The 2022 season marked a significant change for Stewart-Haas Racing. The team did not have a driver in the championship four. This is a rarity considering that Kevin Harvick won the title in 2014 before reaching the final round in 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019.
The entire organization has struggled to put drivers in the championship four since the 2019 season while Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Hendrick Motorsports have turned in strong performances. With 2022 serving as the latest example, the organization now has some bulletin board material for the offseason.
“I think, for us as a company, we kind of struggled a little bit this year,” Briscoe said. “We started the season really strong, at least on the 14 car. The other cars, not as much. From an organization, I feel like Fords in general have been a little off, but I feel like as a company we compare ourselves to [Team] Penske.
“We are very similar to Penske, but I feel like Penske’s outperformed us all year long, so we definitely have a little bit more to learn. I feel like we made a lot of gains over the last 10 weeks, but we’re still not quite where we need to be. So from a bulletin board standpoint, yeah, I think we need to get all four cars in the playoffs — at least three of them.”
Briscoe’s Team Made Major Strides in 2022
Briscoe wants to get at least three of the SHR cars in the playoffs in 2023, and there will be multiple people that believe this is possible. The reason is that both Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola have multiple playoff appearances while Briscoe has made major strides in his first two seasons.
The driver of the No. 14 only had three top-10 finishes in 2021 while fighting for Rookie of the Year honors. The 2022 season has played out significantly differently. He has secured10 top-10 finishes, six top-fives, and one win. He also led 280 laps, including 11 during the Cup Series championship.
What about Cole Custer? He is the biggest question entering the offseason. The previous expectation was that he would return to the No. 41 Ford Mustang, but team co-owner Gene Haas told reporters that he and Tony Stewart are split on whether to put Custer or Ryan Preece in the entry.
If Custer does return, he will have to make some positive strides on the track. He has struggled to contend for wins while only posting three top-10 finishes. Though Custer knows where exactly his team can make improvements.
“I think you can see our short track stuff throughout the year has been pretty solid,” Custer told Heavy at Phoenix Raceway. “Bristol, we had a good run. Martinsville, Richmond, we had a good run before the power steering rack went out. So I think just our short track stuff in general has been good. It’s just a matter of getting our mile-and-a-half stuff maybe a little bit better.”