NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR’s Chase Briscoe revved up to replace Martin Truex Jr. at Joe Gibbs Racing

NASCAR's Chase Briscoe revved up to replace Martin Truex Jr. at Joe Gibbs Racing

Indiana native Chase Briscoe has finally seen his dream of becoming a NASCAR Cup Series contender come to fruition. Since 2018, he’s driven in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series and scored 11 victories and logged one win in the Cup Series at Phoenix Raceway in 2022 for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Briscoe was on top of the world before his cell phone rang on May 29, 2024 — the day he was informed that Stewart-Haas was shutting down at season’s end. The announcement sent the Cup Series into a tailspin, putting hundreds of employees in question as to where they would be working in 2025 and beyond.

Also affected were fellow teammates Josh Berry and Ryan Preece, now looking for rides in the Cup Series for next season as well. That comes with the recent announcement that Martin Truex Jr. will retire from full-time driving at the end of the 2024 Cup Series after winning the 2017 championship and 34 victories.

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Briscoe will finish the season at SHR and is set to join Joe Gibbs Racing as driver of the No. 19 Toyota beginning at the start of the 2025 Cup Series season. Crew chief James Small, a native of Australia, will remain with the organization.

While at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, word spread that Briscoe most likely would be named to the No. 19 ride. As of June 25 during a press conference at JGR, word of Briscoe joining JGR became official.

“I think it’s the worst kept secret in the sport for a while now,” Briscoe said. “Christopher (Bell) I guess just couldn’t hold it in any longer. But yeah, super exciting to come to an organization where I feel like it matches my values and just the culture over here is different than wherever I’ve been before. It starts at the top with Joe, Dave (Alpern, president, Joe Gibbs Racing), Heather Gibbs (co-owner, Joe Gibbs Racing) and everybody. It’s been fun for a couple weeks now to learn that side of them and see what makes them as successful as they are.

“It’s going to be an incredible opportunity for me, the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Small has been with JGR since 2020 and has eight victories to his credit as a crew chief with Truex Jr. A new start with Briscoe opens the door for much more success for seasons to come.

“We’re all super excited on the team,” Small said. “We’ve been in limbo the past few years trying to work out which way he (Martin Truex Jr.) was going to go, but now, this just allows us to build for the future. Chase (Briscoe) is an amazing talent. I actually didn’t know him until last week, and then spent an hour with him and we had a really good chat. I think our goals both have a lot to prove. So yeah, very excited and looking forward to next season and proving what we can do.”

Gibbs has a talent for picking great drivers. He’s done so many times with past champions Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart, Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch.

“…For us really here, it always starts with character,” Gibbs said. “You’re always looking at what type of person you’re getting. And the thing that is different about our sport is that these guys have to represent companies and they represent us. You kind of see the drivers, and I’ve always really respected the drivers in NASCAR because you just don’t find people getting in trouble.

“…That’s such a big deal for us and so, our drivers, we feel like character and then of course that comes with us is we have to win. None of our sponsors say to us, ‘we’re good with running in the back.’ You have to compete; we want to win. And so, then it starts into the talent. I think it’s never easy and it’s complicated when we pick people or somebody like this to take over for us on our race team. That’s a huge deal for us.’

Briscoe knew he would fit in well by how he was treated when contacted to drive the car. The entire process took less than a week to put together. He, like Gibbs, put his faith before anything else.

“It starts at the top (referring to Gibbs),” Briscoe said. “The faith part of it was big, and obviously they want to do everything they can to win, but I feel like they do it the right way here. Out of all the teams that I met with, Joe was the only team that never said, ‘what can you bring?’ They just wanted me for me, and that meant a lot to me personally. They felt that strongly about me in the car and the other teams – Joe was the one that called me two-to-three times a day and reassured me how bad they wanted me in the car. That just made a difference for me personally, because it honestly helped my confidence in the race car – just knowing that he believed in me that much and I haven’t even driven a race over here yet, so from that standpoint, that was really important to me.”

This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: NASCAR’s Chase Briscoe replaces Martin Truex Jr. at JGR

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