Chase Briscoe overcomes sleepless night to make to Watkins Glen

WATKINS GLEN, NEW YORK - AUGUST 02: Chase Briscoe, driver of the #98 Ford Performance Ford, practices for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Zippo 200 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 02, 2019 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

After leading every lap of the first two stages of Thursday night’s NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Eldora Dirt Derby, Chase Briscoe would have preferred to have remained on the track and taken a chance on fuel mileage, but crew chief Vance Haefele overruled him.

Briscoe gave up the top spot when he came to pit road and never got it back. Instead, Stewart Friesen inherited the lead and held it the rest of the way in winning his first career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race, denying Briscoe back-to-back victories in the only national series race on dirt.

But the decision to pit wasn’t what kept Briscoe up that night. He had to commute from Rossburg, Ohio, to Watkins Glen, with an intermediate stop in Statesville, N.C.

“I got here at 5:30 this morning and woke up at 10,” Briscoe said on Friday after posting the 11th fastest lap in NASCAR Xfinity Series final practice. “I was probably the last guy to the track. (The flight) was supposed to go from Eldora to Watkins Glen, and then there was going to be no flight at all, and I was going to drive through the night and get here about 9 this morning. Luckily, they changed that. There were a couple of other guys in my scenario.

“The airport was about an hour’s drive from the race track. I think we landed in Statesville at 2:30 and flew straight to Watkins Glen. Our hotel happened to be over an hour away. So it was definitely a long night and early morning.”

Nevertheless, Briscoe felt fine during his preparation for Saturday’s Zippo 200 (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The race will be his first on the 2.45-mile road course.

“I wasn’t tired,” he said. “Honestly, I definitely want to be higher up on the speed charts, but I was way more competitive than I thought I would be, for never being here …

“Running Eldora last night I think helped, because how you run these road courses, kind of elbows-up, you’ve got to be aggressive and hustle ‘em, and that’s what we did last night. I think it bodes well.”

Greg Engle