Roush Fenway Racing rookie of the year contender Chris Buescher earned his first career NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) victory on Saturday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. A dominant car combined with a winning fuel strategy led the No. 60 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Ford Mustang to victory lane in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200.
“I’m so proud of this team,” said Buescher. “They’ve worked so hard this season and to finally get the No. 60 Ford Mustang to victory lane means the world to me. To have Luke Benner and his family here with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, that’s really what this is all about. Luke put a little extra pressure on me that we needed to win the race, and I told him we could do it. This has not sunk in yet, but it will. It’s definitely a special feeling.”
After a Saturday morning qualifying session, the No. 60 Ford Mustang lined up in fifth. At the drop of the green, Buescher maintained position in the top-five. When the first caution flag of the day flew on Lap 4, Buescher informed the team that his Mustang was a little tight. Crew Chief Scott Graves opted to stay out and not visit pit road.
On the ensuing run, Buescher informed the crew that his Mustang was a little bit tight in the right hand turns. The driver visited pit road for the first time on Lap 25 for four tires, fuel and no adjustments.
Buescher continued to tick off laps in the top-three, radioing to the team that the balance of his Mustang was good. The team visited pit road for the final time of the day on Lap 52 under caution, opting for four tires and a full tank of fuel.
Due to varying pit strategies, Buescher restarted 16th on Lap 54. He continued to work his way through traffic as competitors visited pit road. Buescher worked his way into the lead on Lap 66. Graves came over the radio immediately and told his driver to save fuel.
Once the varying pit strategies played out, Buescher found himself leading the field by 20 seconds. The lead was erased when the caution came out on Lap 70. Graves came over the radio and informed the team and driver that they were rolling the dice and going to make this strategy work. The driver replied that he had already saved a ton of fuel.
Buescher led the remaining 20 laps en route to his first NNS victory, leading a grand total of 25 laps in the 90-lap race.
After the victory, Buescher moves up one position in the NNS championship point standings to seventh.