Chase Briscoe Takes Over the Iconic No. 14 in 2021

                                               

Stewart-Haas Racing and Ford Performance formally announced Tuesday afternoon that Chase Briscoe will move to the NASCAR Cup series in 2021. The Mitchell, Indiana native will take the wheel of the No. 14 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang currently driven by Clint Bowyer, who announced recently that he will be joining the FOX NASCAR broadcast team. 


The No. 14 car was made famous by NASCAR pioneers such as Fonty Flock and Herschel McGriff, as well as the legendary A.J. Foyt, and Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner, Tony Stewart. 


“For me, the 14 is Tony's number but to my family it is A.J. Foyt's number.” Briscoe said in a Zoom meeting with the media on Tuesday afternoon. “That is a generational number that has a lot of significance in all of motorsports. Hopefully I can add to that. It is super humbling to think that the 14 car is going to be driven by me next year. To me there are only a few numbers in NASCAR that have a lot of significance and the 14 is certainly up there.”


Briscoe’s dirt career draws automatic comparisons to his new boss. “It is pretty cool how me and Tony both grew up sprint car racing. Both from southern Indiana, 45 minutes apart. There are a lot of similarities in that sense,” Briscoe said. “As for the dirt background, I feel like it has helped me throughout my entire career … I think just growing up and running on dirt makes you be versatile. You have to constantly react and move around and search around the race track. These Cup races with those being longer races the track will constantly change and you have to be on top of that, so I think it will definitely help.”

Speculation as to who would step into the ride began even before Bowyer's announcement, since he was in a contract year. Briscoe’s name was mentioned along with that of Kyle Larson, whose return to NASCAR was recently championed by Stewart.  News of Briscoe’s move broke Monday, but Stewart, Ford Performance Global Director Mark Rushbrook, and Briscoe met with media members via Zoom after the press release on Tuesday. 

Coincidentally, Larson’s application for reinstatement to NASCAR was approved Monday, but Briscoe’s promotion quickly eliminated the No. 14 as a potential ride for Larson. Stewart was asked whether Briscoe’s performance impacted their pursuit of Larson. 

“They were two separate things, actually. I think Ford has done an awesome job with their driver development program.” Stewart said. “…I feel like Ford has done an awesome job and Chase is a perfect example of that. They were the first ones to really recognize his talent before anybody else got him in the system … that’s what the Xfinity program is for us and to be able to run Chase through that system with us it was a natural transition to eventually get him from the Xfinity car to a Cup car.  The Larson piece was a whole separate side.”

The Ford Driver Development Program signed Briscoe as the program’s first driver in 2017, supporting him to 13 victories in the NASCAR Truck and NASCAR XFINITY Series. A record-setting nine of those came this season, the most recent of which locks him into the Championship 4. 

When asked about investing in young talent, specifically Briscoe, Rushbrook replied, “We went to work looking for that talent in 2016 and had some help from Doug Yates and Jeff Clark. They highlighted Chase Briscoe to us and we went and watched him as he was racing in ARCA and knew he was a special talent. Off the track, he had everything off the track that he was showing on the track.


" It is important for our teams for our teams to have those good drivers to put into their cars. Just like we invest in the engine program and aero program and everything else, we wanted to invest in the driver development program and knew that Chase was the right one to pick and are happy with how he progressed and is ready for Cup.”


Briscoe did not expect the move to happen so soon, but he revealed that Stewart called him two or three months ago to reassure him. “Tony called me one night at like 10:30 at night and told me that the 14 car was mine but that it might not be next year but for sure in 2022 or when Clint decided to leave it would be mine. I was confident, but I didn’t think it was going to happen this coming year. I figured it would be when the new car came out.” 

Both Briscoe and Stewart spoke fondly of Bowyer, acknowledging his contributions and expressed excitement for the next phase of his career.  

“I think for me, obviously I talked about AJ and Tony but Clint, the legacy he has left on the sport as a 10-time winner in the Cup Series and a personality larger than life but also a dirt guy. Us dirt guys I feel like really stick together on the NASCAR side.” Briscoe explained. “Clint was one of my favorites growing up too. I used to always love watching Clint race because he was one of the few dirt guys in the Cup Series. I haven’t talked to Clint with everything going on but I think he will be phenomenal for TV. I think that is the best thing that could ever happen to FOX. We need Clint Bowyer in NASCAR, whether it is in the seat or the booth. Hopefully I can do Clint, Tony and A.J. proud because they all had an outstanding part of that 14’s history and hopefully I can add to that." 

Stewart said, “I hate I’m gonna lose a good friend in Clint Bowyer, but I think the whole sport is gaining a huge asset in having Clint going to the booth....everybody is gonna hate losing him on the racetrack because he’s a great competitor and a great driver, but I’m proud of him and happy for him as a friend that he’s going to the booth. When I got out of that car there wasn’t anybody I wanted in there more than Clint, so I’m proud and happy and very appreciative of everything he’s done for us."

 

As for  what will happen to the XFINITY team next season, Stewart said,  “We’re still working on it, but we have been working on it for a couple months now.  We’ve got a couple prospects that nothing is done yet to announce, but we’ll keep working on our end.  We definitely plan to continue the Xfinity program.  We obviously see the value in it as you see with the announcement today, so we plan to continue down that path.”


Chase Briscoe Takes Over the Iconic No. 14 in 2021 Chase Briscoe Takes Over the Iconic No. 14 in 2021 Reviewed by Janine Cloud on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 Rating: 5

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