Chris Buescher will run the Daytona 500 for the first time of his career on Sunday in the No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford. Buescher, who scored the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship last season, joins Front Row Motorsports in a technical alliance with Roush Fenway Racing.
The No. 34 Ford holds one of the two Charters over at Front Row Motorsports, which guarantee’s one of the starting spots in the 40-car Daytona 500 field. The other Charter held by Front Row Motorsports include the No. 38 Florida Lottery Ford that will be driven by Landon Cassill on Sunday. The racing team will field an additional entry with David Gilliland in the No. 35 Ford that doesn’t have a Charter and therefore will have to race his way into the race.
Buescher spoke on running his first Daytona 500 at media day on Tuesday.
“I was thinking about it the other day and it was four years ago, 2012 was the year we won the ARCA championship. We finished 20th here that day. We were running good and got into an incident there at the very end and I remember riding back up to Charlotte after that one and just realizing how big of an opportunity we had missed and still we were able to pull off a championship that season so it wasn’t all bad,” said Buescher in a press conference. “It is only four years later and we are sitting here in a Cup car with Love’s Travel Stops and getting ready to run my first Daytona 500 so obviously the biggest race in our sport and we get to be a part of it. The best part is we are locked in. For the first time since I have been running in a NASCAR division down here I don’t have to worry about making the field on time. Everyone is aware of the one that bit me on the XFINITY side. We are in this race and get to go out there and run the Daytona 500.”
Buescher made six Sprint Cup Series starts last season with Front Row Motorsports as a fill-in driver. Primary driver David Ragan served as a substitute driver as Kyle Busch recovered from an accident in the NASCAR XFINITY Series opener at Daytona in February. Ragan later joined Michael Waltrip Racing to fill-in for Brian Vickers as he recovered from blood-clots.
“A situation like last year, through unfortunate circumstances ended up in a rush to get everything handled and up and running and that is difficult just from the aspect of trying to get to know who you are around,” Buescher said in a press conference when asked about jumping into a Front Row Motorsports ride at the last minute. “It is a great bunch of guys over there. I have a couple of them still on the 34 for this season. It is just a matter of getting to know everybody and get that feel. We see it all the time with a crew chief change how hard it is to change one person and be able to adapt to that and get that chemistry rolling so imagine a whole team on no notice. I think that was the hardest part of it besides actually getting fitted up and ready to go. Once we were able to do that I thought we had some good runs and a lot of fun doing it and I am glad I got to because it is really going to help for the beginning of this season.”
The Prosper, Texas native made one realistic goal as he races for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title in the Sprint Cup Series. One of those goals for Buescher is being one of the 16 drivers to make the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup. The 23-year old driver knows it will be a long shot but is looking forward to the opportunity with Front Row Motorsports in 2016.
The 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season will mark Front Row Motorsports 11th year in the series. The team holds one pole by Gilliland in 2014 and a victory by Ragan in 2013 at Talladega Superspeedway. The racing team holds four top five and nine top 10 finishes since 2005.