NASHVILLE (April 11, 2016) – With the highs, come the lows. Cunningham Motorsports SCOTT rookie contenders Chase Briscoe and Kevin Thomas, Jr. experienced both firsthand Saturday at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.
Briscoe started the day with the fastest speed in the first practice, and then backed it up with a new one-lap track record in Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell.
“We had a great start to our race day,” Briscoe said. “To earn my first pole at such a historic track was really special.”
But as the race unfurled, Briscoe discovered that things can change in a hurry.
“Once the race started, I realized that we weren’t where we needed to be with long run speed and I place that issue fully on my shoulders. My biggest obstacle transferring over to stock cars is my communication with what I need on the setup. I feel like I let all of my amazing guys down. I hope I can make it back to them and co-owners Briggs (Cunningham) and Kerry (Scherer) at Salem in a couple of weeks. They are letting me fulfill my dream.”
At the onset, Briscoe, who has made only a handful of pavement starts, fell back a couple spots, settling in to conserve tires. Briscoe eventually fell back to 12th before his lone trip to pit road on lap 84 for right side General Tires, an air pressure adjustment and fuel. Briscoe restarted in seventh.
In the next forty laps, Briscoe continued to work toward the front…making it to third just after the halfway point. From that point, however, Briscoe had his hands full as he started losing grip, as well as positions. With no late-race caution – the last one coming on lap 114 of the 200 lap event – the No. 77 Cunningham team would leave four fresh tires untouched.
Despite the strategy, Briscoe was able to earn his second top-10 of the young 2016 season with a ninth place finish.
Briscoe’s teammate Thomas also discovered the highs and lows of race day. In both practice sessions, Thomas had the No. 22 Ford fifth on the speed charts and qualified a solid seventh. Thomas quickly raced his way into the lead for 32 laps. Then, like Briscoe, the weathered and abrasive surface at Fairgrounds Speedway took its toll.
Crew chief Paul Andrews was on the same pit strategy with Thomas as crew chief Chad Bryant was with Briscoe. After Thomas got two tires during the same pit sequence as his teammate, Thomas restarted fifth. Thomas was able to maintain his position inside the top-10, waiting on the caution that never came.
While running seventh with five laps to go, Thomas said that the car, “just shut off.” Thinking that it could be out of fuel, Andrews directed Thomas to pit road for a splash of gas. After receiving the fuel, Thomas pulled the car out of the pits to take the white flag lap, but couldn’t keep it running around the .596-mile track, relegating him to a disappointing 17th place finish.
During their ‘off week’, both teams will be testing Thursday at Salem Speedway, the sight of the next ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards event April 23-24. The Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 will mark the 99th ARCA Racing Series race at the historic half-mile, high-banked track in Salem, Ind.
Follow Cunningham Motorsports on twitter @cunningham_race.
~Cunningham Motorsports Press Release~
Don Radebaugh, email@example.com