Dream come true: Chase Briscoe officially named to Stewart-Haas No. 14

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - SEPTEMBER 06: Chase Briscoe, driver of the #98 Ford Performance Ford, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Indiana 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on September 06, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Chase Briscoe grew up in Indiana idolizing Tony Stewart. He dressed up in a Home Depot (once a primary sponsor of Stewart) race suit for Halloween as a kid and dreamed of one day driving the No. 14.

Briscoe is proving that dreams really came come true.

Stewart-Haas Racing will move Briscoe up to the No. 14 NASCAR Cup series Ford next season, replacing Clint Bowyer who recently announced he will leave the seat and move to the TV booth next year. The team made the official announcement Tuesday.

“Chase has worked incredibly hard to make his mark in NASCAR and has earned this promotion to the NASCAR Cup Series. Thanks to HighPoint and Ford, we were able to make it happen,” said Tony Stewart, co-owner of SHR with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas. “Without Ford seeing him early on and recognizing his talent and HighPoint backing his efforts in Xfinity and now Cup, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to bring him into our system. Since we’ve gotten together with Ford and HighPoint, we’ve been able to do great things with Chase and I feel there are more great things ahead of us.”

HighPoint, a technology solutions company, joined Briscoe in late 2019 as a primary partner of his No. 98 Ford Mustang in the Xfinity Series. It provided a breakthrough opportunity for Briscoe’s career, and the company has stepped up again in 2020, serving as the anchor partner of SHR’s No. 14 team and enabling Briscoe’s promotion to the elite NASCAR Cup Series.

“Chase has to be one of the most humble and grateful guys in the sport and he has worked incredibly hard for this opportunity. We’re extremely proud to be a part of his journey from Xfinity to Cup,” said Mike Mendiburu, President and CEO of HighPoint. “Everyone has seen his talent and he has combined it with incredible humility and an unrelenting work ethic. Simply put, performance without character is not important to us. Chase, however, has both in spades. It’s why he’s ready for the NASCAR Cup Series and why we are so honored to support him.”

Briscoe is a third-generation racer and much like his childhood hero, Briscoe has risen through the ranks the hard way racing on dirt tracks week in and week out winning an ARCA championship before moving into the ranks of NASCAR, first in the Truck Series in 2017 then the Xfinity series in 2018.

“Even though Chase had limited experience running on pavement, we knew he had the natural talent to make the transition,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports.  “Our philosophy was to get him in as many different types of cars and trucks as we could while also exposing him to our technical tools like the simulator to get him as much experience as possible and it’s paid off.”

This season he’s a championship favorite winning nine Xfinity series races so far.

“In the final three races last season, we saw a confidence in Chase that we hadn’t seen before,” Stewart said. “There was a transformation, and I think those three races last year were a preview of what we were going to see this year. He’s delivered time and time again this season and he’s definitely ready for the NASCAR Cup Series.”

In addition to his nine wins, Briscoe has led 957 laps, which is 760 more laps than he led last year, and his 16 top-fives in 30 starts this season eclipses his entire top-five tally from his 2018 and 2019 seasons combined, where he made a total of 50 starts.

“I raced with Chase’s dad in USAC sprint cars and in non-wing cars, so to see Chase come up through the ranks like I did brings back memories,” Stewart said. “When it comes to the 14 car, I obviously have a passion for having dirt drivers behind the wheel. Having had Clint Bowyer in the car and now Chase, it’s special, but also practical. With the lower horsepower package they have in the Cup Series, you have to run these cars a lot freer, and I think that suits a driver with a dirt background. Chase is a guy who would much rather have a loose racecar versus a very tight racecar that won’t turn. I always felt better in a Cup car than I did in an Xfinity Series car, and I think he’ll be in the same position.”

Briscoe’s dream of racing the No. 14 made famous first by AJ Foyt, then Stewart, will begin when he starts the season opening Daytona 500 next February.

“Growing up in Indiana and racing sprint cars, the guy I always looked up to was Tony Stewart. To be able to drive for him is a dream come true,” Briscoe said. “Tony and Gene have built something really special in Stewart-Haas Racing. Being a part of it in the Xfinity Series and now, the NASCAR Cup Series, has always been my goal. HighPoint and Ford created this opportunity, and my parents, my wife, and Briggs and Beth Cunningham, helped position me for this opportunity. Their support means everything, and it’s all the fuel I need to compete at the Cup level.”

“It’s so crazy and unbelievable how everything has worked out,” he said.  “My family has always been a Ford family, and I’ll never forget when I first got signed by Ford.  I would always tell people that my dream was to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing and the icing on the cake would be if it was in the 14 car.  I can’t believe that’s really happened.”

Greg Engle