Wednesday, Nov 30

Ford Performance NASCAR: Texas 2 Media Availability (Chris Buescher)

CHRIS BUESCHER, No. 17 Fastenal Ford Mustang -- WHAT HAS YOUR WEEK BEEN LIKE? “It has been busy, for all the right reasons. It was good. We got to do a big RFK celebration on Monday and it has been neat. I have been around a lot of the employees at Roush for a really long time now, probably a little over 10 years some of them have been at RFK for a really long time and remember when I was working in the shop there. It was pretty cool to see everybody pumped up and get that excitement going and get some of that momentum in our favor. I think we have been heading in the right direction but the win is big. That was really cool. I have had some sponsors over at the shop and they are pumped up right now as well. On Thursday I was right back to mowing the grass just like every other week. So it has it’s highs and its normals.”

 

WE SAW BRAD (KESELOWSKI) POST ABOUT HOW THE FIRST THING HE DID WHEN HE SIGNED HIS CONTRACT WAS MAKE SURE YOU HAD A RIDE. HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL? “That was big when I heard about it way back when. It was neat because that was early on in that year to really be working on contract stuff. To get that tidied up and set really before I had heard the news about what all was going down even, I know some people said it was not a well-kept secret but it was well kept to me. I didn’t have a whole lot of clue of what was going on. It was really neat to have that knowledge and know that he had that confidence that we would be able to get to victory lane together. And since he has come over he has been trying to get us turned and headed in the right direction and I think there has been some good momentum over a few years now but we have been looking for those last few steps. I think we thought we would fire off this season a little bit better but there was no quit in anybody and it just took us a little bit to get traction under our feet. We got going good over the summer and feel like we are in a good place where there are more of these, potentially, this year for us between both cars. I think that was awesome to have two cars that led so many laps at Bristol. That is my favorite race track and it is pretty high up on Brad’s list as well. It helps going to those places you like. It makes it easier to run better. It was a good feeling and feels like we are headed in the right direction and it feels like it was warranted or backed up at this point now.”

 

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO FINALLY GET THAT BOX CHECKED AND GET THAT BEHIND YOU GUYS? “Yeah, that first one is the tough one, right? It has been a really long time since that Pocono win. I know you all threw some numbers at me that hurt my feelings last week but it has been a long time coming and it has been really cool because everybody at RFK has had some struggles through the years and I have been around through the heyday and through the very absolute highs and I have seen the lows along the way as well. To be turning that corner to get back to where we are competing for wins again and be able to pull off some wins is really special to myself and to everybody back at the company. Like I said, I have so many friends within the organization that I have known for almost my entire time I have been in North Carolina and that is something that means just a little bit more when you get to see those guys and girls that have really put in so much effort through that amount of time to be able to see some progress. Brad is a champion of our sport and has won I don't even know how many races. I think it is really special to get it started but we are not done. This isn’t our peak. We have a lot of potential going forward and are going to stay after it. We might as well come back to my home track and keep it going right here, right?”

 

IS THIS THE FIRST YEAR OF YOUR CONTRACT EXTENSION OR IS THAT NEXT YEAR? “I actually don't even know how to answer that. I honestly don't know which is kind of embarrassing, what the extension years look like. I signed back at RFK when Brad came over on the ownership side and am signed up to go again. I am looking forward to finishing out this year strong but also being locked in for next year and ready to hit the ground running.”

 

 

OK, SO DID YOU DO THAT LAST YEAR OR THIS YEAR? “Both.”

 

I GUESS MY QUESTION IS, WHY NOT LOOK AROUND? RFK WASN’T RUNNING GREAT, SO IF BRAD THINKS YOU ARE ONE OF THE TOP GUYS OUT THERE, WHY NOT LOOK AROUND? “I think there are two sides to it, but the way I see it I have so much appreciation for Roush, for Jack, for Robbie Reiser and for everybody at RFK and for Brad as well. That has really helped me fire off my professional career. I came from racing legends cars to sign up with Roush to go into a developmental program and run ARCA races up in the Chicago area. I feel a lot of loyalty to RFK and I have friends here that I have known over 10 years that have watched the absolute best days in racing and seen us go through the dip and be on the return side of that as well. It gives me a little extra pride to know we are working on bringing that upswing back and seeing that those rough years and the effort not declining is yielding results. To get that first win at RFK for myself, for the organization this year and to do it in the first year with the K added on to the end, I think it just gives me a little bit more excitement and pride that we are able to get it done here. I think we will get it done here. Like I said, this isn’t our peak. We are actively getting better and I think the potential is here to do better than any of the teams out there. The confidence level is really good and has been all summer long with a few stumbles along the way, but for the most part some awesome races at all kinds of different race tracks and maybe 1.5 mile tracks are not our best at the moment but even those have been competitive. We look at this one as another opportunity. The potential is here. The people are here. The resources are here. I think we can win races and we can compete for championships here.”

 

WHAT DOES IT SAY THAT THERE HAVE BEEN SO MANY DIFFERENT WINNERS AND THAT THE FIRST THREE RACES OF THE PLAYOFFS HAVE BEEN WON BY NON-PLAYOFF DRIVERS? “It is a pretty wild first round of playoffs and you are a huge fan if you are not in the playoffs right now of how it went. I know there are a lot of playoff drivers that didn’t see that going that way. I think it shows that there was a really high potential for race winners to not make the playoffs this year and it didn’t quite happen in the timeline before the cut. Could you imagine if we got down to it and we had two drivers that had won races that were kicked out of competing for the championship? They would be thinking they had a breakout year and don't even get to try. We were close to that. It wouldn’t have taken but two or three different races along the way and just a small different moment along the way. A little luck here and there. We had moments where I thought we definitely could have added our name into that playoff potential box. It is cool to see that many different winners across so many different teams. It is really neat to see it across a bunch of two-car teams. It isn’t just the four-car operations and I think that really goes to show the potential with this car is there for everybody and it has been a big deal for everybody in the garage. It has been a large learning curve and without the majority of the testing that we typically would have and with basically zero practice .. I know it is still here but it is hard to get this right off the truck and we had teams that hit it early on the west coast swing and racked up wins early. We had teams that came on during the summer and we have two or three of us that hit it after that cut. So it is cool to see. There was the potential for a heck of a storyline going into the playoffs with people missing. We just needed a few more races to get that accomplished.”

 

WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON WHY YOUR 17 CAR HAS BEEN BETTER ALL SEASON THAN THE 6 CAR? “I would like to think that I have had some help along the way. I definitely have gotten things out of Brad that have contributed to our success at tracks like Phoenix or Richmond that are not historically my best. He has been helping;ing me a lot this year. I don't know how much he knows it but there have been some pretty key moments from that side of things. As far as coming in, I think about my first year at Front Row and I think about my first year at JTG, my first year even on the Xfinity side with Seth Barbour on top of the box and then our first year with Graves on top of the box. That first year between a driver and crew chief has never been instant success for me. I don't know if that is what it is but I do realize how hard it is to find that chemistry and understanding. Then you tack on the fact that our testing is almost gone and our practices are so short and you really don't have the opportunity to change anything on the car when you are looking for a feel out of it. We have those small boxes that we can go to, but even then if you don't have that understanding ahead of time it is hard to get there on a Saturday practice day. I have been a part of the struggles for many years. It feels like we were bouncing around for a while and it is tough to get it right that first year. Then you stack on the fact that it is to a new organization on top of that and that is even harder. It is a new organization for Brad and for Matt (McCall) and trying to get used to different methods, different cars, different manufacturers it all adds up pretty quickly to make it harder to get there. I think Bristol was a good show that we can get there and I won’t say it was easier but being that Scott and I had been at RFK for several years beforehand it made it flow into it easier to where we were able to find our way a little quicker. I don't have any doubt that they will get there. There have been several weeks prior to Bristol. It is just hard and it is supposed to be at this level. This is the top level of motorsports in the country and getting everything to really flow off the truck is a big deal and takes a lot of effort. They are getting there. Don't sleep on anybody yet. We are still making progress, it just took us deeper into the season than we had hoped.

 

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