By David Morgan, Associate Editor
Editor’s note: Motorsports Tribune will be previewing the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season for the full-time drivers in the series leading into February’s running of the Daytona 500.
Years in Cup: Five
Career Wins: One Cup Series win, three Xfinity Series wins
Accomplishments: 2012 ARCA championship, 2015 Xfinity Series championship
After a four-year absence, Chris Buescher is headed back home to Roush Fenway Racing in 2020, taking over in the No. 17 Ford that had been driven by Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. since 2013.
Before he climbs behind the wheel next month at Daytona, here’s a little backstory on how we got to this point.
Between 2009 and 2013, Buescher was making a name for himself in the ARCA Menards Series, winning 10 races over the course of 57 starts, as well as bringing home a runner-up points finish in 2011 and capturing the championship in 2012.
The following year, Buescher began driving part-time in the Xfinity Series and eventually moved to a full-time slate with the team in 2014 and 2015. Buescher won three times during his tenure in the series and scored the 2015 championship for the team.
Buescher moved up to the Cup Series full-time in 2016 with Front Row Motorsports, claiming his first career win in a fog-shortened race at Pocono in August of that year. The following season, he took over the No. 37 car at JTG-Daugherty, where he remained until the end of the 2019 season.
Aside from his lone Cup win, Buescher has scored four top-five finishes and 12 top-10 finishes in his four full-time seasons in the Cup Series. His best points finish came in 2016 when he made the Playoffs as a result of his win at Pocono and in the years since has finished 25th, 24th, and 20th in the final standings.
As Roush Fenway was looking at its plans for the 2020 season, they were made aware of a provision in Buescher’s contract that would allow the team to bring him back into the fold and shortly thereafter, they exercised that option and announced Buescher was headed back to Roush starting in 2020.
“I think, for me, it’s gonna be really exciting,” Buescher said.” It’s a homecoming of sorts. I signed up 10 years ago to go into that driver development program with Jack and everybody at Roush Fenway Racing and, for me, that was a huge moment for myself.
“I really got going into stock car racing, had six late model races before that in stock cars. Other than that, was basically fresh out of Legends cars, so that was a big moment and then with everyone’s help and David Ragan’s help at the time, I was able to go and win a bunch of races, won a championship and worked my way up through the company and was able to be there for a long period of time.
“For this opportunity to come up now and be able to come back over, we were in the 17 number through our entire ARCA seasons, all but the last four races there, so that’s kind of a neat deal. I was definitely a Kenseth fan growing up and it was nice to be able to have him be somewhat of a mentor for a short period of time while I was over there.
“That’s really neat and I think performance-wise you’ve seen the organization really step up over the past couple of years now as I’ve been able to get invaluable seat time at Front Row Motorsports and at JTG Daugherty Racing. I’ve learned a ton and I’m ready to come back and try and pick up where their program is and try to help elevate it.”
Buescher will have former Richard Childress Racing crew chief Luke Lambert atop the pit box for him in 2020 as well as being able to lean on teammate Ryan Newman, who enters his second season with the team.
Given the success that Newman was able to attain in 2019, Buescher is hoping that the same will be true for his team this season as they look to get both Roush cars into the Playoffs.
“After watching Ryan and Scott (Graves, crew chief) last year, I learned that consistency is really key,” Buescher said. “Finishing strong at the end of these races is where it comes into play. Honestly, the attitude really is still the same as it was in 2015 – by the end of the race you better be putting your best foot forward.
“Do not give up, do not give in, do not ease up at any point in the race. The end is the only time it truly matters. At the end of the day, you have to finish these races and you have to finish them strong.”