Chris Buescher had an eye-opening performance in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Go Bowling 235 at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course. The driver of the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang snagged his second top-five finish of the season with a solid fifth-place run.
This marks the 27-year old’s first-ever top-five finish on a road course in NASCAR Cup Series competition.
Buescher started the day from the 21st-position, but unfortunately his No. 17 car started the race with a tight handling condition. As a result, he could not make much progression and were stuck around 24th for the majority of the Stage. However, just before the end of Stage 1, crew chief Luke Lambert called Buescher to pit road.
The call to pit, meant Buescher would be 29th to end Stage 1, but with a large chunk of the field needing to pit during the Stage Break, it would boost Buescher in the running order. The driver, who hails from Prosper, Texas, would line up 14th on the ensuing restart.
In another effort to set themselves up for better track position at the beginning of the final Stage, Buescher and the No. 17 team elected to pit before the end of Stage 2. As a result, Buescher would finish the second Stage in 23rd, but would restart the final Stage from the 13th-position.
Buescher would move his way into the top-10 to ninth, when at lap 35 the race would be stopped with a red flag for lightning. After the red flag was lifted, Buescher remained about an 10th-place car for the remainder of the event, until his fortunes began to change with five laps to go.
Kyle Busch took a spin, which brought out the caution. Under this caution, some teams opted to hit pit road for a fresh tire advantage. Lambert and Buescher again rolled the dice and stayed on the track. The decision paid dividends.
Buescher would restart in seventh with three laps remaining, by the time he reached the checkered flag after a hectic three-lap shootout, Buescher would find himself inside the top-five in fifth.
For Buescher, it was a fun day a nice respite from woeful finishes that have plagued his No. 17 team as of late.
“That was just a fun day for our Fastenal Ford Mustang team,” Buescher explained after the race. “We needed that after a couple of hard weeks. Some decent runs and some bad luck and that was fun. I was able to mix it up and steadily work our way forward. We kept learning as we went and there at the end we got beat up. All four corners of this Mustang are beat up but we got the finish out of it. That was a good one. A good day.”
Now, after a top-finish this weekend, Buescher and his team, which sit 22nd in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings, will aim to score back-to-back top-10 finishes for the second time this season as the series heads to Dover International Speedway for a double header weekend.