Chris Buescher and the No. 17 Fastenal team were gaining momentum early in the Daytona 500 until an early race pileup forced them to settle with a 31st-place result.
“That was not the 500 we wanted,” Buescher said. “We were exercising a lot of patience and there were one or two others that definitely weren’t and ended up trashing a quarter of the field right at the start. It was very frustrating and a very tough way to start the year but I thought we were going to be good on speed. I was happy with the way cars were driving. I just never got a chance to really show any of that.”
The Prosper, Texas native rolled off the grid in 22nd and reported a semi-tight Ford Mustang when the first caution flag of the race waved at lap four. The team elected to stay out when other pitted and focused on maintaining track position. Buescher restarted 19th on the bottom lane at lap seven and began to drive his way up through the field. Only seven laps later, a massive 16-car pileup collected the No. 17 machine and caused severe damage to the vehicle. Under the damage clock, the team began repairs just as lighting struck near the track area. A red flag delay of several hours paused the team’s repair efforts.
When the all-clear for drivers to return to cars was given, Buescher’s team assessed the damage and only had a minute and 10 seconds to attend to the damage. Ultimately, the damage to his Ford Mustang was too severe to continue. Buescher drove his car back to the garage, settling for a 31st place finish.
The No. 17 team returns to the track next Sunday with a visit to the Daytona Road Course on Sunday, February 21st at 3 p.m. EST on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.