HighPoint.com Driver Set to Compete Against Racing Idol Ahead of Indianapolis Weekend
- Event: Verizon 200 at the Brickyard (Round 24 of 36)
- Time/Date: 2:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, August 13
- Location: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
- Layout: 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course
- Laps/Miles: 82 laps / 200 miles
- TV/Radio: NBC / IMS Radio Network / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
In November of 2019, while walking to dinner after attending the SEMA show in Las Vegas, Kevin Briscoe was stopped by a stranger who noticed his No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) hat. The man was Mike Mendiburu, CEO of HighPoint.com, and he said he was a big fan of Chase Briscoe, then a young NASCAR Xfinity Series driver from Mitchell, Indiana. Kevin informed Mendiburu that Chase was his son and the two carried on a conversation like they were old friends. The two walked away with Kevin taking Mendiburu’s business card, just in case the Briscoes ever needed anything.
Months passed and Chase Briscoe was told that he may not have a ride in the No. 98 for the 2020 season if funding couldn’t be found. So, SHR was given Mendiburu’s information, and an agreement was reached for HighPoint.com to sponsor Briscoe.
“I wouldn’t have a career if it wasn’t for Mike and everyone at HighPoint.com,” Briscoe said. “Going into 2020, I was going to be done. They literally came in fourth quarter with 30 seconds left and kept things going. Without them, I think my career would have been over.”
That chance encounter in Las Vegas led to a nine-win season, including a victory at a track Briscoe yearned to race on as a child – the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Though the win didn’t come on the iconic 2.5-mile oval, it was one for the record books as Briscoe became the first driver to win a NASCAR race on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indy road course. He had watched Columbus, Indiana, native Tony Stewart pilot his NASCAR Cup Series car on Sundays before he headed back to the bullrings to compete in his dirt car. Stewart, the Brickyard 400 winner in 2005 and 2007, ran several races against his father Kevin, giving the youngest Briscoe plenty of time to learn how best to emulate his hero. When Stewart won at Indy, he climbed the fence, so Chase Briscoe climbed it, too, in 2020. He kneeled in front of the Yard of Bricks in his HighPoint.com firesuit and finally took his turn to kiss the bricks as he had dreamed of as a kid growing up in Mitchell. The 2020 season continued with a playoff berth that carried all the way to the championship race in Phoenix. Briscoe didn’t earn the title that year, but the support from HighPoint.com led to a new opportunity to chase a dream that started in that small Indiana town.
In the late 1990s, Briscoe spent many days and nights sitting at the back of a dirt-car trailer watching his father and grandfather work on Sprint Cars. Kevin raced Sprint Cars for 20 years with more than 150 feature event wins. He claimed track championships at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Indiana, and Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway five times, including a streak of three straight titles. Kevin also grew up around the dirt track watching his father, Chase’s grandfather Richard, as he kept a close eye on the cars he owned for some of the most well-known drivers in dirt racing. Over the years, Richard fielded cars for 37 different drivers, including Chuck Amati, Dave Blaney, Dick Gaines, Jack Hewitt, Steve Kinser and Rich Vogler.
Chase would go back home and put on his firesuit and helmet that matched Stewart’s and would play his dirt-racing video games, often winning and practicing his celebration. He made his first run in a Quarter Midget in 2001 and moved on to 410 Sprint Cars at the age of 13, when he set the record as the youngest driver to win in a 410 Sprint Car. He bested the record previously held by NASCAR Hall of Famer and four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon. Briscoe’s dirt career continued, and he had hopes of competing against the best at tracks like Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway and Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
At 19, Briscoe left Indiana to pursue his dreams of making the switch to stock-car racing, following in Stewart’s footsteps. It was never an easy path, but he went on to win an ARCA Menards Series championship in 2016 and, in 2017, he moved to the NASCAR Truck Series as a Ford development driver. With a win, 10 top-five finishes, 14 top-10s, and a sixth-place finish in standings, Briscoe was named rookie of the year and the Truck Series’ most popular driver. Ford was impressed and helped coordinate an opportunity for Briscoe to run a partial season in the Xfinity Series, where he drove for Roush-Fenway Racing and the team co-owned by his racing idol, SHR. A win at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway with SHR in the first race held on the Roval led to a fulltime season with the team in 2019. In his first full season of Xfinity Series competition with SHR, Briscoe scored a berth in the NASCAR Playoffs by earning his second career Xfinity Series win in July at Iowa Speedway in Newton. He also scored two poles and 13 top-fives and 26 top-10s to finish fifth in the championship, all of which earned Briscoe the rookie of the year title.
HighPoint.com came on board for the 2020 season and Briscoe blazed his path through the Xfinity Series. In October, midway through the playoffs, Briscoe arrived at Stewart’s house in Indiana for what he thought was a discussion about whether HighPoint.com would be returning as his sponsor for the next season. The group sat down for dinner and Briscoe, joined by his parents, was informed a decision had already been made – he would be leaving the No. 98 Xfinity Series program to become the next driver of the No. 14 SHR Cup Series entry, the car first driven by Stewart himself.
Briscoe had a tough start to his rookie Cup Series season in 2021. He struggled to find his place with no practice sessions as the sport adapted to changes caused by the ongoing pandemic, but he performed well on the road courses. Briscoe earned three top-10s in the first five road-course events, and then the Cup Series arrived in Indianapolis for its first race held on the Indy road course. Briscoe qualified second, his best qualifying effort of the year. He took the lead on lap two of the race and finished the first stage in ninth. He struggled late in the race, but a series of restarts in the closing laps put Briscoe back in contention. Restarting third for the second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish in overtime, Briscoe was shoved off track going into turn one. He returned to the track and made a move on leader Denny Hamlin to take the top spot, but Briscoe wasn’t aware he was under penalty for not following protocol on his return to the track. He made contact with the leader and was parked for the final lap of the race. He had come so close to returning to victory lane at Indy, but his move had angered Hamlin, who felt Briscoe had been too aggressive. Briscoe stood his ground while Stewart watched with pride.
“Personally, I felt like I was doing my job,” Briscoe said. “I’m there to win. But, to have Tony tell me he was proud of me for standing up for myself, that made me realize I’m doing the right thing. He’s the guy I looked up to as a kid and the driver I always wanted to be. He knew who he was and didn’t let anyone push him around, and it’s time for me to do the same.”
Two years later, Briscoe heads back to Indy with the No. 14 team, but he’s making a stop on the way. On Thursday, Briscoe will make the drive from Indianapolis to Rossburg. He’ll pull into Eldora, a half-mile dirt oval owned by Stewart, and will climb behind the wheel of a Superstar Racing Experience HighPoint.com-branded car to finally get his chance racing against the driver he emulated as a kid growing up in Mitchell.
“The biggest draw for me to run SRX was the fact that I have never been able to race against Tony,” Briscoe said. “I felt like it’d be my only opportunity to ever do that in my career. I pushed so hard to do it because I knew that opportunity was getting smaller and smaller and I just wanted to be able to say I’d done it at some point in my career. I’m glad that HighPoint was able to come along and be part of that.”
No matter the outcome, it will be an experience Briscoe doesn’t take for granted.
“It’s crazy to think how many times I pictured while growing up that I was out there, driving Tony’s car, and that I was him. Now, to finally share the racetrack with him is going to be really special for me. Hopefully, I can go and beat him. But regardless, it’s going to be a really cool moment for me. I’m sure it doesn’t mean absolutely anything to him. But for me, it will be special to race against him on Thursday and then have him at the car as my boss on Sunday at Indy.”