Event: Production Alliance Group 300 (Round 3 of 33) Date: Feb. 29, 2020 Location: Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California Layout: 2-mile oval
Chase Briscoe Notes of Interest
● The Production Alliance Group 300 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, is the third event on the 33-race NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule. It will mark Briscoe’s 53rd career Xfinity Series start and his second at Fontana.
● In Briscoe’s only Xfinity Series start at Fontana, which came in last year’s Production Alliance Group 300, he started sixth and finished fifth.
● Briscoe captured his first win of the season last Sunday in the Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The 25-year-old driver from Mitchell, Indiana, led five times for a race-high 89 laps to earn his third career Xfinity Series win and his first at Las Vegas.
● Briscoe comes into Fontana as the Xfinity Series championship point leader. His victory at Las Vegas combined with his fifth-place finish in the season-opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway gave Briscoe a seven-point advantage over his nearest championship pursuer, Noah Gragson.
● In addition to being the title sponsor of the Xfinity Series race at Fontana, Production Alliance Group is the primary sponsor of Briscoe and the No. 98 Ford Mustang from Stewart-Haas Racing. It is the first of three events where the Tustin, California-based premium live-event and creative development company will adorn Briscoe’s No. 98 machine. Production Alliance Group will return with Briscoe May 2 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and Sept. 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
● The No. 98 Production Alliance Group Ford Mustang carries a lineage to Carroll Shelby, an automotive jack-of-all-trades who raced and built performance cars. Shelby won the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans as a driver and founded Shelby American in 1962. There, he took British AC roadsters and fitted them with Ford engines, creating the Shelby Cobra. That relationship with Ford led Shelby to develop the Ford GT40 and win Le Mans in back-to-back seasons as a constructor (1966 and 1967). Ford asked Shelby to take its new Mustang racing in 1965, and he promptly made it a champion. Today, the Shelby name is synonymous with the Ford Mustang, and Shelby’s iconic No. 98 – which he originally raced and then used during his time as a racing constructor – adorns Briscoe’s No. 98 Production Alliance Group Ford Mustang. In fact, the grille of the No. 98 Ford Mustang features the iconic Shelby Cobra badge.
● DYK?: Before Shelby won Le Mans in 1966, his Ford GT40 won the 1966 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Both of these races were chronicled in the recent Oscar-winning movie Ford v Ferrari, and it is the 1966 Rolex 24 at Daytona that has a connection to Auto Club Speedway. Ford v Ferrari director James Mangold transformed the southern California racetrack into the Daytona road course of the 1960s by creating a historically accurate, digital replica of Daytona and filling it with cheering fans. Artists removed backgrounds from production footage shot at Auto Club Speedway and replaced them with digital replicas of Daytona’s grandstand and its environment, populating the stands with tens of thousands of digital spectators while applying other enhancements to help replicate the look and intensity of the actual race. Actor Matt Damon played Shelby, while Christian Bale played the role of Ken Miles, who drove the Ford GT40 to victory at Daytona. The number of that race-winning car? No. 98, of course.
CHASE BRISCOE, Driver of the No. 98 Production Alliance Group Ford Mustang:
You earned your first win of the season in the second race of the year last Sunday at Las Vegas. How important was that victory for you and the No. 98 Production Alliance Group team?
“It was definitely a team win. Our Ford Mustang was really good out front, but we struggled in dirty air, so the last pit stop was crucial to get back out front. It’s nice to be able to get to victory lane this early in the season – for us and all of the partners we’ve got on board this year. I feel like this is something we can do all year long, and I’m thankful to be the one with the opportunity to drive the No. 98 and work with Richard Boswell (crew chief) and this team. It’s even more fun to be able to start off the West Coast swing with a win to where we can go out to Fontana with Production Alliance Group and just have fun.”
Drivers talk about Fontana being a fun racetrack. What makes it fun?
“It’s one of those tracks that is really fun to go to as a driver. Last year was the first time I ever got to go there, and it was a track I had circled on the schedule for a long time. It’s so slick and worn out. It’s not the same shape or even the size of Homestead, but it races a lot like Homestead where you kind of start off of the wall and, as the run progresses, you get up to the wall. Now that I’ve gotten a lot more experience in the Xfinity Series, I’m looking forward to going back and having a shot at a good run with our Production Alliance Group Ford Mustang, especially with it being such a big weekend for their group. Last year, we were in the top-five and had good speed at the end of the race but, honestly, it took me the whole race to figure out how to run the track, so I’m looking forward to going back there this year with a baseline of where to start.”
You mentioned how the track surface at Fontana is old and worn out – in fact, it’s the oldest surface on the Xfinity Series circuit, dating back to 1996. Seams separate the four main lanes of the track. When you cross over those seams, do they upset the car’s handling?
“I feel like any race we go to the seams really affect us, but it seems like Fontana is the worst. You throw that into how rough that place is and how worn out it is, and it really makes it challenging. But I feel like this is the kind of track that plays into a dirt guy’s background – and I love racing dirt – because it changes so much throughout the race. You have to save your tires because it’s slick and worn out and you want to be there with a shot at the end. For a two-mile racetrack, it requires the most throttle control we have to use out of anywhere we go. Hopefully, we go out there and it’s 100 degrees and really slick.”