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Cup Series Star Briscoe To Feel Right at Home This Week in BC39

Indiana native Chase Briscoe enjoyed two days of weekend racing on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course, with finishes of fifth and 23rd in NASCAR’s Xfinity and Cup Series races, respectively. But now fun awaits.

“One of my favorite races of the year,” Briscoe said of the Driven2SaveLives BC39 presented by WeatherTech, the USAC National Midget race held this Wednesday and Thursday on The Dirt Track at IMS.

Eighty-nine car-and-driver combinations are entered, making the fourth BC39 the most popular competitor series race of the season. But few drivers have the same connection to the event as Briscoe, a native of Mitchell, a small Lawrence County town an hour south of Indianapolis.

Briscoe is a third-generation racer who for years tagged along with his father, Kevin, at short tracks around the state. As a youngster, Briscoe was particularly drawn to Bloomington Speedway, a quarter-mile dirt track where his father was a five-time track champion (1991, 2001, 2004-06) and his grandfather, Richard, entered cars. Briscoe remembers taking his spot on the front row of the main grandstand, flag in hand, waving it ferociously in imitation of the starter perched near him.

Briscoe, 27, was reminded of his dirt-track roots last week when a Facebook memory popped up on his phone.

“Like 12 years ago, I (wrote) that Indiana Sprint Week at Bloomington Speedway is my version of the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500,” he said. “That’s how much Bloomington Speedway meant to me. It’s really where I grew up (in racing).”

Like many Hoosiers, Briscoe was a fixture at IMS, too, having his long streak of “500” races attended stopped in 2016 as his career took him to NASCAR events. He still regrets missing that historic 100th Indianapolis 500, which was sold out.

After winning the Xfinity Series road race in 2020 at IMS, Briscoe made his second IMS Cup Series start Sunday, leading five laps and winning the first of three stages. He again reiterated how much enthusiasm he had for the event given the attention on him from all the friends and family attending, along with those from home watching on NBC.

“All week I’d been excited to get back to Indy,” said Briscoe, whose first driving uniform was purchased at Speedway Monogramming, formerly located across 16th Street from IMS’ main entrance. “I felt like I was back home literally as soon as my foot hit the ground. It was like, ‘OK, it’s go time.’ I’d been waiting for this (trip) all year long.

“But you could grow up anywhere, and you’d dream of getting to come to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And to have the privilege of it being your hometown track, to come here as a kid watching races, it makes it even more special.

“I got to see my heroes run around this place and dreamed of being on the other side of the catch fence, and now I’m a guy people are watching. It’s definitely special.”

Briscoe’s Indiana tour continues Monday with a visit to Cummins headquarters in Columbus, another sponsor event Tuesday and the two nights of dirt-track racing Wednesday and Thursday before heading to Michigan International Speedway on Friday for his next day-job event in NASCAR.

“I’ll try to see some family in between all of that,” he said.

But racing at The Dirt Track has his racing heart. He has competed in all three BC39s.

“The racing is unbelievable, and it’s in honor of (the late) Bryan Clauson, who in my opinion was one of the greatest (drivers) of all time,” he said. “To have that race in honor of him in a place he loved more than anywhere else is just special.”

The BC39 annually offers the highest car count of the year for the series, with a record 110 competing in the inaugural event in 2018. Briscoe, reigning Cup Series champion Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are the drivers who competed Sunday and will return to IMS for the dirt event.

The entry list consists of 10-time World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz, four-time USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car champion Brady Bacon, who won the first BC39, and three of the seven USAC Triple Crown champions (J.J. Yeley, Jerry Coons Jr. and Chris Windom). Schatz is making his event debut.

USAC national champions are plentiful in this field, including last year’s winner, Buddy Kofoid. The others are Justin Grant, Tyler Courtney, C.J. Leary, Logan Seavey and Russ Gamester.

Ryan Newman, who has won both the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400, also is making a rare midget start. Four-time Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge starter Zach Veach also is entered along with NASCAR Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed.

Seven women are entered, each seeking to become the first woman to win a USAC National Midget feature. The field also represents three countries (U.S., Australia and New Zealand) and 18 states.

Gates open Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET with cars on track for practice at 6 p.m. Racing begins following opening ceremonies at 7 p.m., with the Stoops Pursuit feature capping the night’s action.

Times are similar Thursday, with qualifying races at 5 p.m. Opening ceremonies will be at 7:30 p.m. with main feature events, the semi-feature and the 39-lap main event following.

Tickets are available at IMS.com.

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