DARLINGTON, S.C. – It was the biggest day of Chase Briscoe’s life following the toughest day of his life, he said.
The 25-year-old Xfinity Series driver revealed Tuesday that his wife, Marissa, had suffered a miscarriage following a 12th-week doctor’s exam.
He didn’t have to race that night — a blessing in disguise, he said — but was still emotional when he climbed back into the car once again Thursday and remained so for most of the day.
Somehow, some way, Briscoe turned tragedy into at least a moment of triumph by holding off Kyle Busch in a wild finish to capture the checkered flag at the Toyota 200 in the final race of the week at Darlington Raceway.
“This is for my wife, and this is the hardest week I’ve ever had to deal with,” Briscoe said between tears on Fox Sports 1 following the win. “God is so good, man … even when I took the lead with 50 to go, I was crying inside the race car and just emotionally I wasn’t there at all.”
Even so, Briscoe was able to hold off the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion in a finish he'll remember for the rest of his career. Over the final two laps, he overcame hitting the wall and losing the top spot to Busch at one point only to regain the lead and pull out his second victory of the season.
“I pulled away from Kyle on that restart and I knew that I just had to hit my marks, but I just kept screwing up,” Briscoe said. “I knew Kyle was going to be coming and then, I think it was three (laps) to go, he went to the bottom of (turns) three and four and made up a ton of time on me. So then with two to go, I changed my line and then coming to the white flag I did it again and I hit the wall off of four pretty hard.
“Getting into one, there was no way he was going to drive it any deeper than me. I wasn’t going to let it happen.”
Briscoe took the lead from Justin Allgaier following the final caution of the day with 12 laps remaining by winning the race off pit road, which likely proved to be the difference in the race, he said.
“I wasn’t putting very good laps together, and Justin got by me,” he said. “And that caution saved me, obviously. My pit crew did a phenomenal job of getting me back out in the lead.”
Busch finished runner-up for the second straight night after taking the No. 2 spot in Wednesday’s Toyota 500. Starting 26th, he managed to climb all the way to the top five just 15 laps in, and eventually took over the race lead — winning stage two.
Allgaier took third place. He led for nine laps compared to Briscoe and Busch, who each led 45. Pole sitter Noah Gragson led the most laps with 46 and took stage one. He finished fifth overall.
The race took a turn earlier following a strange series after Busch's stage victory. A speeding penalty entering pit road dropped him to the back of the pack, and it took until the final caution before he maneuvered back in the top three.
“If I didn’t have the speeding penalty, we probably wouldn’t have been in that situation anyway,” Busch lamented following the late-race duel with Briscoe. “We would probably have been leading on the restart.
“…But no excuses. Got busted for speeding unfortunately — 0.02 over and had to go to the back.”
Busch was one driver who knew exactly what Briscoe was going through, and his wife, Samantha, reached out to Briscoe's wife on Wednesday, the driver said.
"It meant a lot, obviously," Briscoe said. "Samantha is as close to what my wife can relate to — both (their) husbands do the same thing. ... It was really good for my wife, Marissa, to be able to talk to Samantha. I want to thank the Busch family."
The entire racing community has been very supportive during this time, he added.
"You always hear that racing is family, and I've seen that from other people whenever they suffer a loss — the whole community really wraps their arms around them," Briscoe said. "Me and my wife were so humbled by the amount of people who reached out.
"...It just shows how good the racing community is."