Chris Buescher headed to Road America with high hopes after his victory at the road course last year in the ARCA Racing Series. The Roush Fenway Racing driver started in the ninth-position and faced early adversity after flat spotting and having to pit for left front tire trouble, followed immediately by a pass through penalty for speeding upon exit. The team reached as high as the second-spot and generated a fuel strategy that almost got them to the end, until a late caution required a final stop, placing the No. 60 Roush Performance Parts Mustang in 18that the end of the day.
“I got into five too hot,” said Buescher. “We had a really great Roush Performance Parts Mustang, and I had a few mishaps in the beginning that really hurt our chances. The rain definitely came into play and made for a challenging day, but we made it to the end in one piece. I feel bad for putting my team in that situation right off the bat.”
The Rookie of the Year contender started the rain-delayed race in ninth and, after driving into treacherous turn five too hard, ended up with left front vibrations that required an early stop on lap 3. Buescher was set back even further after speeding, but remained on the lead lap.
Crew Chief Scott Graves opted to stay out on the first caution of the day, placing Buescher in fifth on the restart at lap 16, after which he would soon charge to the second-position, his highest standing of the day. Without fresh tires, he was shuffled back and would make his next stop under green while in the sixth-spot on lap 23, setting him back to 24th.
Bad luck once again struck as a yellow was soon waved on lap 25 for weather, and all drivers were required to come in for rain tires. Buescher battled his way back inside the top ten and was confident that he had saved enough fuel to make it to the end, but while running in tenth with two to go, two cars in the lead pack ran out of fuel bringing out another yellow.
Graves did not want to take any chances after seeing the failed results of those on a similar strategy, and they pitted one last time for fuel only on lap 50, putting Buescher in 17th for a green-white-checkered finish. His tires had lost some of their bite and Buescher would end the Gardner Denver 200 in 18th.
Buescher will return to the track at Kentucky on Friday, June 27th sitting eighth in points. Coverage of the John R. Elliott Hero Campaign 300 begins at 7:30 pm on ESPN.