The Round of 16 of the Cup Series playoffs begins on September 4. Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe is right on the initial cutline, but he has a plan in place to survive the opening round while other drivers falter.
Briscoe provided the details while meeting with media members on August 30. He explained that he has some confidence heading into the playoffs despite being only two points above the cutline. The reason is past success at some upcoming tracks. Additionally, he will focus on taking what is given to him instead of pushing too hard and wrecking out.
“I think that’s my biggest focus these next three weeks is just limiting mistakes, doing all the little details right,” Briscoe said in a Zoom press conference. “And I feel like as long as you do the little details right this first round, you should be able to point your way through because there are gonna be guys that eliminate themselves just by making mistakes. And if you can limit your mistakes and not make them super detrimental, I think then you should be able to make it out of that first round.”
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Briscoe Has Shown Speed at Times
The driver of the No. 14 has made positive strides in his second full-time season. He won the first race of his Cup Series career, and he set career-high marks with four top-10 finishes and three top-fives.
The box score doesn’t fully tell the whole story. Briscoe has been in a position to contend for wins and strong finishes in multiple races before issues disrupted his days. This includes the Bristol dirt race where he pushed too hard on the final lap and spun himself and Tyler Reddick out, as well as the regular-season finale at Daytona where a push sent him hard into the wall from the lead.
“It is gonna be nice to hit the reset button,” Briscoe said on August 30. “We haven’t done a lot of things well the last two or three months and haven’t really had the finishes to show for what I feel like the speed we’ve had.
“Hopefully, we can hit the gate running these first three weeks or the next three weeks for this first round and kind of show what I know we’re capable of. I feel like they’re all really good racetracks for me career-wise too, so I’m looking forward to it and hopefully, we can surprise a lot of people.”
Briscoe Can Not Afford Any Mistakes
While Briscoe has his plan in place, he will have to go out and execute it. There is no room for any mistakes, especially during the opening round of the playoffs, due to the slim margin of points.
Briscoe is currently 12th in the initial standings with 2,009 points. He is just above Daniel Suarez at 2,007 points. Austin Cindric and Alex Bowman are both within reach of Briscoe at 2,006 points while Austin Dillon is the final driver below the cutline with 2,005 points.
As Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. showed during the regular-season finale, there can be massive points swings throughout a race. Truex had a 12-point lead over Blaney when the red flag displayed for rain. He went on to finish eighth while his fellow playoff contender was 15th and six laps down.
Blaney was nowhere near the lead lap after a wreck ruined his day. He still took the final playoff spot by virtue of three points. The reason is that he passed enough drivers that had wrecked out while Truex lost enough spots on the final run to the checkered flag.