SONOMA, Calif. – Chris Buescher‘s runner-up NASCAR Cup Series finish after running top five all afternoon at Sonoma Raceway in 2022 came as a surprise to many.
His fourth-place finish in Sunday’s (June 11) Toyota/Save Mart 350 didn’t.
Buescher qualified seventh and was a fixture inside the top 10 for the entire day. Running fourth when Denny Hamlin brought out the second and final caution of the day with 19 laps to go, Buescher passed cars on old tires and made his way back up to fourth at the conclusion of 110 laps.
“It is [a good run], really wanted a shot to try and fight [Martin Truex Jr.] there,” Buescher said post-race. “It’s really the only car I didn’t quite get around, I think we had speed at times through runs and just had to work on a little bit of track position.
“Everybody did a really nice job at RFK [Racing], our Fifth Third Bank Mustang had good speed all day. They did a great job on pit road and had some good strategy calls there. We’re where we needed to be, just needed it to finish a little bit differently for us.”
Buescher lined up sixth for the final restart after Chase Elliott, Tyler Reddick and Ryan Blaney elected to stay out during the last caution. While Truex, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano quickly made it through lapped traffic, Buescher had fits with Blaney and was unable to clear him in a timely manner.
“Balancing act [with traffic],” Buescher said. “Just a couple of laps on tires is okay, and then we got jammed up behind [Blaney] there. …
“Lost the chance to go fight for the lead, and that part’s unfortunate because it’s just a matter of racing when there’s different strategies out there. Somebody’s going to get upset, it ended up hurting us a decent amount.”
In 28 road course starts in the Cup Series, Buescher has recorded four top fives, nine top 10s and an average finish of 14.4 (in contrast to his career average finish of 19.9 in 273 Cup starts). After back-to-back top fives at Sonoma, Buescher said there’s nothing in particular that he likes about Sonoma; he just likes the left and right turns.
“I just enjoy road racing,” Buescher said. “I like doing something different from time to time. Had a ball with these things since I was nine years old in a Bandolero running an infield road course at Texas [Motor Speedway]. It clicked in, and it’s continued to through my career.
“Good help from good road racers to help me fine tune some of that. Had a good teammate in AJ Allmendinger (at JTG Daugherty Racing) for a few years there, and all of that just builds up to strong runs and enjoying these things.”
Sonoma was Buescher’s third top-five finish of 2023, which ties his season high with 20 races left in the calendar year. Seeking his first playoff berth since 2016, Buescher now sits 11th in points, 102 points above the cut line with 10 races left in the regular season.
About the author
Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.
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