Briscoe, who went winless and finished 23rd in the series standings last season, earned his first career win earlier this month at Phoenix Raceway.
The debut of the Next Generation car in the series has coincided with an abrupt turnaround in performance by the 27-year-old native of Mitchell, Ind., who struggled through his rookie season in 2021.
Through the first six races of this season, Briscoe is already locked in the playoffs with his win, has two-five and two top-10 finishes and is ninth in the series standings.
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Briscoe, who drives the No. 14 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing, believes being new to the Cup Series himself may have been an added benefit with introduction of the Next Gen car.
“I don’t feel like I’m really doing anything different,” Briscoe said about his driving style with the new car. “The last few weeks, the car has driven pretty similar to the old Cup car – not the 550 (horsepower) stuff, but the 750 (hp) package.
“I feel like just as a team we’ve gotten better. We’ve had more speed in our race cars where last year was obviously a struggle but, to me, the cars don’t drive a whole lot different. I don’t know if other guys just have more habits to break, where I didn’t really have a lot of things I needed to change as far as from an experience standpoint.”
What’s changed for Briscoe and SHR?
Briscoe said the Next Gen car feels like “a hybrid” between what he’s driven in the Xfinity Series and the Gen-6 Cup car.
Mostly importantly, he believes continued gains by SHR may be contributing to his strong start, and the improving performances of teammates Aric Almirola and Kevin Harvick this year.
“I just think our cars have been really good. We’ve had a lot of speed and we’ve been able to capitalize on that,” he said.
“Last year we never had the speed we needed a lot of the time, and the races we did have speed and ran up front, we didn’t have it consistently like we have this year, so far.”
Briscoe may be among the best positioned drivers entering this weekend’s race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway.
While Richmond (at ¾-mile long) may technically be the first short track race of the 2022 season, may drivers believe the 1-mile oval at Phoenix – the site of Briscoe’s victory – races very much like a short track.
Expect tire falloff at Richmond
One factor Briscoe expects to come into play again this weekend is tire falloff. Richmond – like Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. – has had significant falloff in recent years and the Next Gen car’s new tire compounds and 18-inch wheels should add to that.
“Richmond, I don’t really know what to expect. I do think this car probably creates a little more grip than the old car does at places like Richmond, but I honestly don’t know what to expect when we get there,” Briscoe said.
“I think that we haven’t really seen this car on a true short track. Yes, Phoenix is a short track, but there’s not a lot of tire falloff, where at Richmond there’s a ton of falloff, so we have to see how this car reacts to that.
“It’ll definitely be interesting to see how this car impacts tire saving and guys going hard and things like that.”
Briscoe believes the tire falloff this season has added to the entertaining racing product on the track and the unpredictable results.
“With this car, everywhere we go there are a lot of comers and goers,” he said. “You have guys that are extremely good on the short run, guys that are good on the long run, and with this car you’re just constantly changing positions.
“You throw in the tire falloff side of things at Richmond and it’s going to be interesting, for sure.”