Chris Buescher and the No. 17 team rebounded in a big way Sunday afternoon in the Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway to finish 13th after an unwelcomed opening stage.
“We started off really bad,” Buescher said. “It took us a good amount of time and some big adjustments to get dialed in. I’m proud of this Pala Casino Mustang and team, we really got a lot closer toward the end there. We’re not where we want to be – still. But, we’re much, much closer.
“It’s nice to see that gain throughout the day. I think we would’ve discovered some of that if we would have had practice, but obviously nobody did. We’ll just keep working on it – getting a little bit closer, so we can be in the hunt towards the end.”
Buescher was the beneficiary of a solid starting position – fifth – after weather dominated the headlines throughout the weekend, ultimately cancelling qualifying on Saturday with the NASCAR metric putting Buescher fifth on the grid.
Because of the inclement weather, NASCAR opted for a competition caution at lap 15 giving teams their first chance to assess the handling of their machines early on in Sunday’s action. Buescher ran 18th at the time and went on to finish the opening 65-lap stage in 25th.
His rebound began in stage two as he worked his way from past 20th to 12th to end the second stage, narrowly missing out on a top-10 position and stage points. He and teammate Brad Keselowski both began the final segment in the top-10 with Buescher maintaining the position throughout the final laps.
He hit pit road for the final time at lap 170 from the fourth spot, and from there held on to the top-15 for the 13th-place result in the Pala Casino Ford.
The No. 17 team returns to action next week as the West Coast swing rolls on in Las Vegas. Race coverage next Sunday is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, with radio coverage on PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.