Chris Buescher and the No. 17 Fastenal team secured their second top-five finish of the season Sunday afternoon with a fifth-place run in the inaugural Cup Series road course race at Daytona International Speedway.
Buescher rolled off the grid to tackle the unfamiliar course in 21st. The first stage of racing proved to be challenging as the driver worked hard to learn how to maneuver the tricks and turns of the track. By lap six Buescher was shuffled back to 24th, where he held track position until the team pitted under green at lap 13. With reports of a tight handling Ford, the team decided to take four fresh tires, fuel, and adjustments to the track bar and air pressure. Two laps later, Buescher took the green-white checkered flag for stage one in 30th.
The team elected not to pit at the stage break and restarted 14th for stage two. As Buescher continued to clock laps, he was shuffled back to 17th by Lap 23. The adjustments from the pit stop in stage one proved to work well and five laps later the team visited pit road under green for the same adjustments as the previous stop. Without enough laps to move back through the field, the Fastenal Ford finished stage two in 23rd.
With fresh tires and fuel from the late stop in stage two, the team stayed out and Buescher restarted 13t
When the hold lifted, weather cleared from the area and the green flag waved again at lap 39. Buescher restarted 10th but made quick work clocking laps on the track, driving all the way up to sixth at lap 47. The team elected to pit at Lap 48 for fresh tires and fuel to make it to the checkered flag. After the pit stop, the team got back on track 21st. Buescher wasted no time driving through the field. By lap 57, he was back inside the top-10.
When the caution flag waved with five to go, Buescher was up to ninth. Two cars pitted in front of the driver, giving him a track position advantage to restart seventh with three laps to go. Pit strategy worked to the No. 17 team’s advantage as the fresh tires allowed Buescher to drive his way to fifth in the closing laps. The team ultimately took the checkered flag in fifth, securing the driver’s second top-five of the season and first ever top-five at a road course in the Cup Series. The finish also marked Jack Roush’s first Cup Series top-five on a road course since 2014.
Buescher and the No. 17 team return to action for a double-header weekend at Dover International Speedway. The first race begins on Saturday, August 22 at 4 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Network, MRN and SiriusXM Channel 90.