A bold pit strategy nearly resulted in a 1-2 finish for the Roush Fenway team, as the No. 6 and 17 Mustangs stayed out during the second stage break with inclement weather threatening Darlington Raceway. Rain drops fell on the track with Chris Buescher in the second position and the caution flag displayed, but ultimately cleared and he took the checkered flag 23rd on Wednesday night at the South Carolina track.
Buescher rolled off the grid 32nd in his Fastenal Ford and drove his way up to as high as 25th in the first stage. The driver pitted twice during the second caution of the day to continue to fix a vibration and to loosen up the car, but Buescher ultimately took the green-white-checkered flag for the first stage 28th.
The No. 17 team restarted stage two 21st, but only three laps after the restart a competitor car got into the back of Buescher, sending him for a spin. Luckily, his Mustang had minimal damage and the driver was able to pit for a quick fix and get back on track. The team stayed steady in the mid to high twenties to finish the second stage 24th.
Pit strategy came into play at the beginning of stage three as crew chief Luke Lambert made the call not to pit. The threat of inclement weather in the area came into play as Buescher restarted for the final stage in second, with teammate Ryan Newman leading the field. Rain drops fell on the track, but ultimately cleared and the race resumed.
After the green flag waved, the No. 17 team did their best to maintain momentum, but old tires set them back. Buescher hit pit road at lap 169 for a second attempt at a stop after missing pit road the prior lap. The team elected to take tires and fuel, then went back to work, two laps down. A series of cautions in the final sixty laps of the race helped the team fight their way back up to 23rd with 20 laps to go. Inclement weather arrived at Lap 208, ending the race early. Buescher was scored 23rd.
The No. 17 team looks on to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 24 for 600 miles of racing under the lights. Tune into Sunday evening’s race at 6 p.m. EST on FOX and PRN.