By Caleb Slouha
While most people had the race written-off as another dominating performance by Christopher Bell at Iowa Speedway Saturday night, but all changed in the closing laps after timely cautions.
On lap 155, the field came down to pit road and Bell took his last set of tires knowing they could go the rest of the race on fuel. However, Chase Briscoe took fuel only, saving one more set for later in the race.
This worked out to his favor, as there were three more cautions before the end of the 250-lap race, which pushed Bell to use his tires up.
With 45 laps to go, a caution came out allowing Briscoe to pit for a new set of tires. That proved to be big.
Chase Briscoe Uses Strategy To Halt Dominant Bell
Even with 22 to go, Bell remained out front holding off John Hunter Nemechek and Ryan Sieg as Briscoe was in fourth.
But as laps clicked off, Briscoe charged hard toward the front, and began his battle for the lead until officially taking the spot with 5-to-go. It was no longer a contest when he walked away to a 1.069 second victory.
“I was definitely getting worried,” Briscoe said at the beginning of the strategy. “When the caution came out I knew we were going to be in pretty good shape.”
Not only did the strategy work out, but confusion on the pit stop while taking fuel only resulted in a penalty for running over equipment. The team kept their heads down and picked the winning strategy.
“It sucks for a reason like that, because it spells the race out for guys,” Bell said when asked if this one felt like a tough loss. “For example, we didn’t have enough fuel to make it to the end so we have to pit with 100 to go. All of the competitive cars decided to take their tires. Then a guy that’s not going to beat us heads up decides to gamble and not take tires and if it goes green the rest of the way, he’s a lap down and a non-factor. The fact that he got a yellow where he could put tires on and win the race…that’s the name of the game.”
The comments were shrugged off by Briscoe, who was not bothered when it was brought up.
“We won the race, so I don’t really care to be honest,” said Briscoe. “I don’t care how we won it, it’s not like we were a 15th-place car all day. He could have done the same thing and not pitted with 99 laps to go and probably would have won the race.”
The first win of 2019 means Briscoe has secured a spot into the NASCAR Playoffs, where he hopes he can rival the success of his teammate Cole Custer, who has five victories on the season.
“I know my confidence has been a bit down, because it’s hard when your teammate has the same stuff as you and he is kind of lighting the world on fire,” Briscoe told media. “This is the first race we go back where we have been before, so were aren’t as much of a deficit when we go there, and I think that showed this weekend.”
Chase Briscoe and the NASCAR Xfinity Series tour returns to the track on Saturday August 3 at Watkins Glen for the Zippo 200. It’s scheduled to start at 3:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by NBC.
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