Forty-five minutes southwest of Circuit of the Americas, Parker Chase grew up watching the races from his home in New Braunfels, Texas.
Whether it was NASCAR on his television or driving through Hill Country Kart Club Raceway, the go-kart track 10 minutes from his home, Chase was mesmerized by the feeling of speed.
In 2011, at the age of 10, Chase finally asked his parents if he could race in Hill Country and quickly received a no. Soon after, Chase’s father went NASCAR racing at Texas Motor Speedway, which only frustrated Chase further.
“It (ticked me off) and I was like, ‘Well, that’s what we’ll do when you get back,'” Chase said in an interview with NBC Sports.
So began his motorsport career, with a journey filled with go-karts and sports cars that included a stint as Kyle Buschteammate of the 2020 edition of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
These days, Chase is going the stock car route. And on Saturday, just under 10 years after witnessing COTA’s debut for the 2012 United States Formula 1 Grand Prix, Chase will make his first NASCAR Xfinity Series start at his home track, driving the Toyota #26 for Sam Hunt Racing.
“To debut on Xfinity, there is something special…” said Chase. “Having everyone who has supported me over the past 11 years that I have raced to see me debut on Xfinity is special.”
While Friday’s practice session will mark his first laps in an Xfinity car, Chase has plenty of laps around the Circuit of the Americas in other vehicles.
His stint in go-karts turned into road racing, sending Chase into sports cars at a young age. His first laps at COTA took place in 2016 during a test session. And at 15, Chase was there to drive a Porsche for the Pirelli World Challenge balance of performance test “just to get some track time.
“I ended up jumping in a different car and getting out and going pretty fast, and so the plans for the whole year changed,” Chase said. “We went to do a full Pirelli World Challenge season in GT4 (with Performance Motorsport Group). And I think my first race there was about a month later, and we finished third on the podium and fifth. in another race.
This season has steadily propelled Chase into the world of sportscars, earning multiple podium finishes over two seasons with PMG and making his debut in 2017 in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship at COTA. The following year, Chase competed in two separate series of the Pirelli World Challenge, winning six combined races and a championship.
He made his first start at the 2019 24 Hours of Daytona, competing for Starworks Motorsport in one of six races with the team. But it was his run at Road Atlanta in October that changed Chase’s eventual path.
Chase raced that event for AIM Vasser Sullivan Racing, and three and a half months later was back with the team for the 2020 24 Hours of Daytona. Chase drove the team’s No. 14 Lexus as a teammate of Jack Hawksworth, Michael De Quesada and one Kyle Busch, who had just won his second NASCAR Cup Series championship. The band finished ninth in the GTD class at Daytona.
Chase grew up watching NASCAR, but nothing prepared him for the attention Busch’s presence brought.
“It was cool just to see how many people wanted to talk to Kyle Busch,” Chase said. “Wherever you go, there’s always a swarm of people following him. And even the autograph session that we did, I think the line for our table was probably four times longer than anyone else’s. And there are a lot of people there who have won Le Mans multiple times and everything you can imagine. But Kyle Busch’s table was the longest.
Outings with Lexus have paired the Texas native with Toyota Racing. Chase recognizing the opportunities available to him, he made the decision to move into stock car racing, which led him to race late model cars in 2020.
“As I got older, I realized that I felt there were more opportunities in NASCAR to earn a living,” Chase said. “Because if you ask someone who’s not into motorsport, they’ll say, ‘oh yeah, race cars.’ And when you race in sports cars, they say, ‘oh, like NASCAR!’ So I think NASCAR in the United States is obviously the top form of motorsport So I just felt like, you know, if I went that route, I had a strong opportunity to make it a full-time career .
The wheels are in motion to help this goal become a reality. Chase has made four ARCA starts for Venturini Motorsports in 2021 with a best fourth in Charlotte and will make 10 starts this season. Already, he earned a second-place finish at Daytona in the series-opening race.
The Toyota connection also came full circle as Chase made two Truck Series starts for Kyle Busch Motorsports, partnering with former teammate IMSA for the Daytona Road Course (23rd) and COTA (18th) last year.
Ahead of his Xfinity debut with Sam Hunt Racing, who led his first laps two weeks ago with John Hunter Nemechek driving in Phoenix, Chase expects to be competitive on Saturday afternoon.
“I think I want to finish in the top 10 at least,” Chase said. “I think it’s going to be pretty hectic, so if we can stay out of trouble and not have serious contact or break anything and stay clean, we have an easy chance of finishing in the top 10 I think. C is my minimum goal, but obviously I want to go out there and win like everyone else.
Chase is taking every opportunity one run at a time. He remains hopeful of a full-time opportunity in any National Stock Car Series for 2023.
“That’s obviously the goal,” he said. “I want to be able to go out and fight for a championship in any series. So, at a minimum, I want to be able to do that. And then maybe, let’s say if we do a full season of ARCA, I want to mix up trucks or Xfinity stuff just to keep learning as much as possible.
At COTA, Chase will have plenty of hometown support, including title sponsor Bahnbrëcker, a craft whiskey brewed in his hometown of New Braunfels.
“I’m going to have, I don’t know, at least 100 people there, just friends and family and anybody who wants to come see it,” Chase said. “It’s cool to be able to have everyone I’m close with on the track.”