Chris Buescher again showed his road course prowess Sunday at Daytona, racing inside the top five for much of the late racing action before ultimately finishing 11th in his Fastenal Ford Mustang.
“Overall, I was pretty happy with our Fastenal Mustang,” Buescher said following the race. “This has been a really good road course for us. I think a lot of things we learned from the Clash got a lot better, so I was real proud of that. I think I need to clean up a few things on my end, and need the field to clean up a few things on their end and that really changes our day a good amount. At the end of the day we were able to salvage a decent day out of it, a decent finish, especially after last week being a rough start to the season. I’m proud of everybody. I’m ready to do a little bit more road racing this season for sure. I feel pretty confident we’re going to be competitive at all of them.”
As is the case with most road course events, strategy and timing came into play often as Buescher weaved his way through the field after starting 30th. He advanced to 15th by lap 11 when the second caution of the day flew, but his pit crew made quick work on pit road to send him back out 10th for the restart with three to go in the opening stage. He maintained the 10th position, earning a stage point to kick off the 70-lap race.
Following another stop under the stage break, the Texas native restarted 19th but again worked his way well inside the top-15 just a few laps later, eventually finishing 13th in the second segment. After rolling off 12th for the final stage, Buescher hit the grass at one point, but regained momentum and kept pace with the field. Green-flag stops would take place just after lap 50, where Buescher pitted from the 10th spot in what would be his final stop of the night.
The caution waved again at lap 55 for rain at the track, which cleared quickly with Buescher in 21st. After a majority of the field pitted under the yellow, crew chief Luke Lambert elected to keep the No. 17 Ford on track, in a move that would pay dividends in the closing laps.
He lined back up fourth for the restart with 12 to go, and over the course of two separate yellows maintained his spot inside the top-10 until he was sandwiched between two cars on the front stretch with seven to go, shuffling him back to outside the top-10.
Buescher remained patient and picked off multiple spots in the closing laps to finish 11th, just a season after running fifth at the 3.57-mile track in its inaugural event.
NASCAR heads back to Florida next weekend as the Cup Series visits Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, Feb. 28. Race coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX. Radio coverage can also be heard on SiriusXM Channel 90.