Chase Briscoe fought off a door-banging last lap challenge from Kyle Busch on Thursday to claim an emotional win in the first NASCAR Xfinity race since a two-month hiatus forced by the novel coronavirus outbreak.
For a while, it seemed as if the race might never get run after it was rained out on Tuesday and was in danger of being washed away again on Thursday. Finally, the rains relented after a nearly five-hour delay.
But the wait was worth it as Briscoe and Busch engaged in frantic battle over the closing laps that would have had the fans on their feet if there were any at Darlington Raceway, the grandstands left empty due to Covid-19 restrictions.
A sobbing Briscoe said would enjoy his biggest ever win, after what he called the worst day of his life earlier in the week.
On Tuesday, while waiting for the race to start, Briscoe learned his wife Marissa had suffered a miscarriage.
“This is for my wife. This has been the hardest week,” said Briscoe after climbing from his car, tears rolling down his cheeks. “When I took the lead, I was crying in my car.
“This is more than a race win. This is the biggest win of my life after the toughest day of my life.
“To be able to beat the best there is so satisfying.”
The win was Briscoe’s his fourth career in NASCAR’s second tier series that also allow Cup drivers like Busch, the reigning NASCAR Cup series champion, to race.
In the closing laps, Busch’s car began to fill Briscoe’s rearview mirror.
Busch, the winner of a record 96 Xfinity races, was looking to pen his own storybook finish, having been sent to the back of pack with 53 laps to go for speeding in pit lane.
“Had a good showing, put on a bit of an exciting show there at the end,” said Busch. “I just tried what I tried but it wasn’t going to be enough. Take second I guess, got no other choice.”
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