Briscoe fends off Busch for emotional Darlington win
A week of heartbreak and rain delays ended up with a trip to Victory Lane for Chase Briscoe.
Briscoe survived a wild back-and-forth battle with veteran Kyle Busch over the final nine laps but just clipped Busch at the finish to win Thursday’s rain-delayed Toyota 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
The race was the first for the series since March 7 at Phoenix Raceway. A week later, all professional sports shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NASCAR returned to live race last Sunday with no fans. Thursday’s race was the third event at Darlington this week. Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin won the Cup series Sunday and Wednesday.
The week has been an extremely difficult one for Briscoe, who announced on social media Tuesday that his wife, Marissa, suffered a miscarriage. Briscoe was at the track at Darlington sharing the doctor’s visit virtually when the couple received the news.
“Man, this is for my wife. This is the hardest week I’ve ever had to deal with,” Briscoe said, as tears rolled down his face. “God is so good. With 50 to go, I was crying inside the race car. Emotionally, I wasn’t there at all.
“There’s nothing else to say other than God is just so glorious. This is more than a race win – this is the biggest day of my life after the toughest day of my life.
“To be able to beat the best there is, is just so satisfying.”
The win is the fourth of Briscoe’s career and second this season.
Justin Allgaier finished third, Austin Cindric was fourth and Noah Gragson rounded out the top-five. The series returns to action on Monday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, again with no fans in attendance.
Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, Busch was first off pit road but was penalized for speeding during his stop and had to restart from the rear of the field.
When the race returned to green on Lap 97, Allgaier led the way as Busch was mired back in 21st.
Briscoe quickly grabbed the lead on the restart as Allgaier dropped back to second.
With 45 laps remaining, Brandon Jones headed to pit road for an unscheduled stop under green (loose wheel) while Briscoe continued to maintain about a 1-second lead over Allgaier.
With 30 laps to go, Briscoe continued to hold the lead while Busch had cracked the top-10 and moved to eighth, 10 seconds behind the leader.
Anthony Alfredo tagged the wall with 20 to go but was able to continue on without incident.
One lap later, Allgaier got around Briscoe to take the lead for the first time in the race.
Michael Annett spun off Turn 4 with 15 laps remaining to bring out a caution. All the lead-lap cars elected to pit with Briscoe the first off pit road.
On the restart on Lap 139, Briscoe led the way followed by Allgaier, Busch, Cindric and Daniel Hemric. Busch moved into second on the restart.
Busch made short work of the field, taking the Stage 2 win comfortably over Allgaier by more than 2 seconds.
Gragson ended up third, Briscoe fourth and Michael Annett rounded out the top-five.
Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, all the lead-lap cars elected to pit with Busch the first off pit road. On the restart on Lap 51, Busch was followed by Gragson and Allgaier.
With 30 laps remaining in the second stage, Busch held a steady 1-second lead over Allgaier while Chastain had moved into third.
By Lap 70, Gragson had moved back into third after falling back on the restart as Busch expanded his lead over Allgaier to 2 seconds.
After 80 laps, Busch had built a 2.5-second lead over Allgaier as Gragson remained in third, nearly 6 seconds behind the leader.
Gragson dominated the first 45-lap segment and easily held off Chastain to claim the Stage 1 win – his second of the season.
Ryan Sieg was third, Busch fourth and Cindric completed the top-five.
Gragson, who started on the pole, took command early and maintained a small but steady lead over Sieg through the first 10 laps.
On Lap 16, NASCAR threw a competition caution to allow teams to check tire wear and make adjustments because of heavy rain earlier in the day.
When the race returned to green on Lap 25, Gragson remained in the lead followed by Sieg and Haley.
With 15 laps to go in the first stage, Gragson continued with about a 1-second lead over Chastain with Cindric having moved into third.
A caution for debris on the frontstretch was thrown on Lap 35. The race returned to green on Lap 40 with Gragson out front.
The cars of Joe Graf Jr., Kody Vanderwal and Landon Cassill had to start the race from rear of the field, all for unapproved adjustments.
|21||07||Ray Black Jr.||Chevrolet||147||24.491|
|25||1||Michael Annett||Chevrolet||146||1 lap|
|26||44||Tommy Joe Martins||Chevrolet||146||1 lap|
|27||15||Colby Howard||Chevrolet||146||1 lap|
|28||47||Joe Nemechek||Chevrolet||145||2 laps|
|29||78||Vinnie Miller||Chevrolet||145||2 laps|
|30||99||Mason Massey||Toyota||143||4 laps|
|31||36||Ronnie Bassett Jr.||Chevrolet||143||4 laps|
|32||52||Kody Vanderwal||Chevrolet||142||5 laps|
|33||74||Bayley Currey||Chevrolet||142||5 laps|
|34||5||Matt Mills||Chevrolet||135||12 laps|
|35||93||Myatt Snider||Chevrolet||129||18 laps|
|36||4||Jesse Little||Chevrolet||122||25 laps|
|37||26||Colin Garrett||Toyota||111||36 laps|
|38||89||Landon Cassill||Chevrolet||35||112 laps|
|39||66||Stephen Leicht||Toyota||1||146 laps|
Darlington Xfinity race postponed: "What’s another couple days?"
Chase Briscoe: “I was emotionally a wreck, all over the place”