Chase Briscoe was already a winner when he took the green flag at Friday’s Kansas 150, the final event of the 2016 ARCA Racing Series season.
Briscoe, a 21-year old from Mitchell, Ind., only needed to start the race to wrap up the season points title.
He finished the year with a victory at Kansas Speedway, and celebrated with a backward leap into the waiting arms of his crew.
“Last year I was here on pit road catching tires with some of these guys,” Briscoe said. “For (co-owners) Briggs (Cunningham) and Kerry (Scherer) to give me an opportunity, and to be able to pay these guys off with a championship … is big. I’m so blessed.”
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It was Briscoe’s sixth victory — and he didn’t win his first race until the season’s midpoint on June 26. Only two other drivers won multiple races.
“It’s been a whirlwind. I felt like we should have won a ton of races early in the year, and when we won that one, it’s like they started coming,” Briscoe said. “We had five wins and six poles, but (crew chief) Chad Bryant and I think we should have won 12 or 13 races.”
Briscoe started in first after qualifying was rained out Friday morning. He dominated the first half of the race, and was cruising until a caution restart caused chaos.
He was at the start of a chain reaction that resulted in a red flag and four cars being knocked from the race on lap 51. Briscoe and Myatt Snyder touched in the backstretch during a jumbled restart.
“That restart was really hairy. I got on the apron a little bit and made a little bit of a mistake,” Briscoe said. “Dalton (Sargeant) was trying to pack as much air on me as he could … luckily we had good tires so we could save it.”
Snyder spun out, came to a stop across the track, and seemed to avoid trouble before Kyle Weatherman, a native of Wentzville, Mo., broadsided him at high speed. Weatherman was transported to an area hospital as a precaution.
“I hate it for me and Kyle and everybody involved,” Snyder said. “We all had great cars, and we were going to have a great finish, but that’s racing sometimes.”
Briscoe was sixth at the red flag, but regained the lead on lap 75 and never looked back.
Recent ARCA champions have stepped into NASCAR, and it’s a transition that Briscoe hopes to make.
“That’s what I want to be. I want to be a Sprint Cup champion one day, and hopefully I get that opportunity,” Briscoe said.
Scherer believes Briscoe has the talent to excel.
“The thing about Chase is he has earned this. Everything he’s gotten, he’s earned,” Scherer said. “He’s got the whole package. Not only does he have the driving ability, he’s got the likability … all the things that make a good race car driver.”
The Star’s Randy Covitz contributed to this story.