By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
Chris Buescher won last weekend at Pocono Raceway, which means that if he can race his way inside the top-30 of the championship standings that he will race for a championship when the Chase begins in a few weeks. Buescher began that quest Sunday at Watkins Glen, as he entered the day six points behind David Ragan for the 30th-place spot in points.
Buescher started the Cheez-It 355 from the 25th position, but lacked overall speed all race long. Buescher and crew chief Bob Osborne struggled with a car that was tight in the right hand turns, and overly loose in the left hand turns. It was a trying race for the No. 34 team, but with just seven laps to go, Buescher was lined up side-by-side with his main competition — Ragan.
Buescher worked his way ahead of Ragan when disaster struck.
A pack of cars ahead of Buescher slid through the grass upon exit of the bus stop. This created a cloud of dust that forced the field to check up. When that happened, Kevin Harvick was spun around into Buescher which sent Buescher sliding into the wall and curbing. Buescher would not be able to get his car off of the curb, and would have to get help from a tow truck to get back to pit road.
This set off another unfortunate scenario for Buescher. Since he was unable to drive his car back from the crash, he was required to go to the infield care center to be checked out, per NASCAR’s rule.
“That is not how we expected that one to go,” Buescher said about the accident. “We got down to it at the end and were racing through the bus stop and came out of it and I am not sure who but a couple guys went through the dirt and caused a wall that we couldn’t see through. I came through the other side of it and the 4 car was sitting there backwards. I tried to get down to avoid it and hooked the splitter in the mud, tucked it under, and got stuck. I was trying to get it where I could drive back around but I had to get out and go through all that.”
Luckily for Buescher and his team, the race had been red flagged, so they didn’t lose any time to the leaders while this was all playing out. Even luckier for the No. 34 team, Ragan suffered catastrophic damage in the incident as he ran head-on into Harvick after Buescher and Harvick collided.
However when the red flag was lifted, the No. 34 team had to quickly thrash in the garage area to make repairs to get their car back on track. The hard work paid off, as Buescher would return to the track after losing just one lap.
In the end Buescher ended the day with a very disappointing 30th-place finish, but it was just good enough to gain him four points on Ragan in the championship battle. Buescher was unhappy about how his race ended up, but he was able to find a silver lining in how hard his team worked to get him in a position to gain points after a rough race.
“These CSX guys, they worked really hard to get this fixed quickly and got back on track and took the green flag with everybody else there. I am proud of them for that. They did a good job and we were still running there at the end,” said Buescher. “In the grand scheme of things, from a points standpoint, it was a little bit of a gain but we definitely don’t want to do it like that anymore.”
With four races remaining until the Chase for the Sprint Cup is set to begin, Buescher now sits just three points behind Ragan for the 30th-place in the point standings.