The No. 31 Great Clips Turner Motorsports Chevrolet team came into yesterday’s race riding a wave of momentum after posting their fourth victory of the 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season. That wave will continue into Talladega Superspeedway next week thanks to a little luck in avoiding a near head-on collision on lap 116. Buescher and the Great Clips team would post a sixth-place finish and close the gap to just one point behind the series leader.
The Turner Motorsports team had just two hours of practice on Friday to get the Great Clips Chevy Silverado dialed in for Saturday evening’s Smith’s 350 race at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval. After predominately working on race setup, Buescher wound end up ninth on the practice chart, this without posting a mock qualifying run.
Buescher and the Great Clips team rolled off the grid in the 15th position for Saturday evening’s shoot out in the desert. The field had a tough time starting with a slick track as the sun set on the D-shaped oval. Within the first 15 laps, the yellow flag graced the speedway three times for competitors spinning out where the sun was setting in turn four. During this time, Buescher was unable to get a good read on the Great Clips Silverado other than that they didn’t have enough rear grip.
On lap 29, crew chief Michael Shelton would call his driver down pit road to top off the fuel and make a wedge adjustment in hopes of tightening up the Silverado to make it a little more secure in turns three and four. After the sun had completely set over the speedway, the side-by-side racing action picked up. The field eventually settled in and was able to log some green-flag laps. Buescher keyed his radio into the crew, “I am a five out of ten loose.” Shelton acknowledged his driver and reported back to him that they were working on a plan to tighten him up.
When the lead lap trucks headed down pit road on lap 54 after another caution came out, Shelton would try his Vegas luck and took only one can of Sunoco fuel, putting his driver out in the second position for the restart. Many of Buescher’s competitors would take tires during this stop, putting Buescher in a tight spot battling two and three wide before he was able to settle into the 10th position.
During the longest green flag stretch with 42 straight laps without a yellow flag, the Turner Motorsports crew was prepping for a green-flag pit stop when a timely caution flag waved for debris in turn two on lap 77. Buescher still radioed to Shelton that the truck needed more grip and the team would make a major swing with reversing a track bar adjustment that was made on the previous stop and giving Buescher two more rounds of wedge, an air-pressure adjustment, four Goodyear Wrangler tires and fuel. Buescher would exit the pits in the 12th position.
Buescher went back to work on regaining good track position now that the truck’s balance was more to his liking. After some fierce battles, Buescher worked his way up to just inside the top-ten. It was on lap 116 when directly in front of his Great Clips Silverado, Buescher’s teammate and two other competitors came together, sending Buescher scrambling to miss a near certain head-on collision. With Buescher overtaking the drivers that spun in front of him, he would line up in the sixth position for one of the final restarts of the race.
On lap 122, Buescher would dive deep into turn one, putting himself three-wide trying to move up from the sixth position. Dirty air once again got Buescher loose, slipping him back into the sixth position where he would finish. These two back-to-back solid finishes for the Great Clips Turner Motorsports team has put them within just one point of the championship point standings.
“I can’t thank everyone at Turner Motorsports enough for the hard work they put in week in and week out. The guys went to work on the truck after having no grip in the first half of the race and we were able to turn in a solid performance in back to back weeks. I look at the rest of the schedule and I don’t see a track that I don’t feel like we can’t win at,” said Buescher following the Smith’s 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Turner Motorsports PR