Chase Briscoe and Josh Berry impress for soon-to-close SHR

LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE - JUNE 23: Josh Berry, driver of the #4 Miner Docks Doors & More Ford, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Reser's Fine Foods Toyota, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Today 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on June 23, 2024 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

With the news that Stewart-Haas Racing is shutting its doors at the end of this season, all four of its drivers are on the job hunt, making every race an audition. For two of them, their runs at New Hampshire Motor Speedway can only help their case.

Chase Briscoe and Josh Berry crossed the finish line side-by-side, with Briscoe ending up second and Berry finishing third. Both drivers impressed as the cars headed out on rain tires for the final 80 laps, making up positions by finding grip while others struggled.

On one hand, Briscoe doesn’t seem to have to worry about auditioning. Martin Truex Jr. is retiring from the No. 19 car after the conclusion of this season. At a pre-race press conference in New Hampshire, Christopher Bell hinted that Briscoe will be the driver to fill that seat, though no official announcement has yet been made. 

Either way, Briscoe turned in a drive to impress any future employer, finishing just behind possible future teammate Christopher Bell as runner-up. Like his teammate Josh Berry, he was able to take advantage of the rain to turn a mediocre run into a ‘good day overall’, using his dirt background to help him.

“The rain saved us for sure,” Briscoe said. “We were terrible in the dry. We knew typically on the road courses and even the ovals that we’ve ran in the rain we’ve been pretty good truthfully. I didn’t expect to drive up to second, but yeah, really good recovery as far as that.

“It was fun racing at the end and slipping and sliding around. The track was changing a lot. It was a lot like sprint car racing, and the groove was literally changing lap in and lap out.”

LOUDON, NH – JUNE 22: Chase Briscoe (#14 Stewart Haas Racing Zep Ford) during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series USA Today 301 on June 22, 2024, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH. (Photo by Michael Bush/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Berry, for his part, climbed from 20th when the red flag came out for rain to his eventual third place finish, taking full advantage of the situation.

Yeah, it’s like I said earlier, right, the rain was a new opportunity for us, and we capitalized,” he said. “The car was really, really good that second half. I mean, we cut right up through there. Just started out the day really strong and ended it strong too.

“It’s definitely a challenge. It’s intense, but it’s so much fun. I find myself riding around under caution just trying to figure out where the grip is at, what pavement has grip, whether the paint has grip, doesn’t have paint. Then you see us running through the water on the front stretch. I have never done anything like that in my life, but, man, it was so much fun.”

Berry even had a shot for the win. He was hunting down leader and eventual winner Christopher Bell in the closing laps before the caution flew for a stalled Brad Keselowski on track, setting up an overtime restart. Berry failed to get the jump there and ended up battling his teammate for second, letting Bell drive away to victory.

“We were debating back and forth on bottom or top,” Berry said of his lane choice for the restart. He eventually chose the top, starting a row behind the leader. “I really wanted to take the front row, but it was just, it just seemed slick down there. I just felt like I would be stuck racing probably Chase, who would have been on the outside – kind of like we ended up.

“I really pushed Christopher out there really hard, and I think that kind of checked my momentum. Then I just got a little loose off of [Turn] 2 and got Chase back to my left rear. He kind of drug me back, and we got stuck racing and had to drag race there to the line.”

Berry’s future is less certain, but options remain open. Front Row Motorsports appear to have purchased one of the Stewart-Haas charters, with reports indicating that 23XI and Trackhouse will get two others. The fourth will remain with owner Gene Haas for his new Haas Factory Team, announced on Thursday prior to the race weekend.

Owen Johnson