Race Weekend Central

Chris Buescher, RFK Triumph at Daytona, Bubba Wallace Makes Playoffs

Chris Buescher took his third NASCAR Cup Series win of the season in overtime at Coke Zero Sugar 400 Saturday (Aug. 26) night.

Buescher and his teammate-owner Brad Keselowski took control of the race at the overtime restart, as Keselowski locked on to the back bumper of the No. 17 and stayed there until the drop of the checkered flag. 

“That’s as much Brad’s win as it is ours,” Buescher said in his post-race interview. “It’s awesome to be sitting here again so quickly. What a heck of a start [going] into the playoffs right now. It’s been a long time coming.”

With Buescher’s win, Bubba Wallace secured his spot in the NASCAR playoffs. 

“That was the most stressed but also the most locked in that I’ve ever been” Wallace told NBC. “Proud to be locked into the playoffs. This is special for our team. 23XI [Racing], third year in, getting both cars in the playoffs, we’ve gone through a lot of trials and tribulations, just so proud of the effort we put in.”

Ford has won four of the last five races, and its speed started early in the weekend at Daytona.

See also
Ryan Preece 'Pretty Close' to Contract Extension With SHR

After winning a third consecutive superspeedway pole for Ford on Friday, Chase Briscoe led the field to the green flag and led the opening 23 laps until Denny Hamlin, aided by a line of Toyotas, drove to the front of the field.

As the tame opening stage came to a close, Hamlin spent the final laps trying to block all lanes. The Fords in the outside lane shuffled Hamlin to the middle, which allowed Martin Truex Jr. to get past, taking the stage win and extending his points lead over Hamlin.

A switch flipped at the beginning of stage two and the intensity meter pegged to the max. Two and three wide racing commenced, as cars danced on the edge of control. The tango turned south at the end of the stage when Ty Gibbs got loose off the nose of teammate Christopher Bell in turn 3. Gibbs slid down and clipped Ryan Blaney, whose car took a hard right and slammed into the outside wall, setting off a major incident involving 16 cars.

The lap 95 crash ended playoff hopes for Gibbs and Austin Cindric along with Daytona 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 

Keselowski snuck through to win the stage, and Truex earned enough points to clinch the regular season championship.

At the start of the final stage, the Stewart-Haas Racing and RFK Fords found one another on the outside, and the inside lane disappeared. Led once again by Briscoe, the field decided to click off laps around the high line until about 20 laps to go.

After a round of green flag pit stops, two separate groups emerged, with Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott pacing the field. The second group, led by Kyle Busch, caught up with the lead pack and things got racy once again.

Cars shuffled, pushes intensified, and hearts pounded – and then stopped – when Ryan Preece’s No. 41 Ford took a terrifying tumble down the backstretch. An awkward push from Erik Jones turned Preece across teammate Briscoe’s bumper. The rear lifted the car and it flipped upside down. When it landed on its roof, Preece took a ’90s-esque barrel roll through the grass.

Preece emerged from the car and was taken to the infield care center in an ambulance. According to the broadcast, he was later transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.

In overtime, RFK teammates Buescher and Keselowski lined up on the outside while Harvick took the inside with the Hendrick Chevrolets of Elliott and Alex Bowman behind him.

Try as they might, the inside line proved no match for the RFK duo. In a last-ditch effort, Elliott made a move to split Harvick to the middle lane, but the No. 9 still came up short, finishing fourth.

Though Elliott missed the playoffs, the No. 9 team will still contend for the owners championship.

Daytona Cup Results

The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs begin Sunday, Sept. 3 at Darlington Raceway with the Cook Out Southern 500, one of NASCAR’s crown jewel races.

About the author

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I believe more in execution, than momentum. But no matter what you attribute it to, RFK is going into the Playoffs sizzling. Good job all.


Interesting that this article has videos of the two big crashes but not a video of the finish of the race itself that it in the article text.

There is an article on Frontstretch about not using the crashes for promotion and using the actual racing. Same could be said for this article.

Share via