James Buescher and the No. 31 Rheem team came into Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) looking to continue the momentum they started to build last month in Kansas. Starting the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 from the 12th spot, Buescher quickly worked his way up to inside the top five. During a late race restart, Buescher came into contact with another competitor when running three wide close to the wall, which caused Buescher to suffer slight damage. Dropping as far back as 19th in the running order, Buescher masterfully picked his way through the field to bring home the team’s second consecutive top 10 in 2013 with a sixth-place finish.
With nearly six hours of practice time for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) on the weekend at CMS, the Rheem team took advantage to fine tune their chassis that took home four victories in 2012. It was undoubted that Buescher was going to be one to contend with, as during the first practice the Rheem team finished in the 2nd spot on the charts. When it came to qualifying, Buescher just missed placing the No. 31 Chevy Silverado in the top 10, setting Buescher to roll off the grid in the 12th position for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.
When the green flag released the 36-truck field for the 134-lap main event, Buescher immediately went to work picking his way through the field. By lap two, Buescher had already cracked the top 10 and he didn’t quit there. By lap 18, he was hunting down a top-five running spot. The race saw its first of eight yellow flags on the night, and during this yellow crew chief Michael Shelton called his driver down to pit road to top the Rheem Chevy off with Sunoco race fuel. When the race went back green, Buescher went back to work trying to pick his way through the field. On lap 30, Buescher reported to the crew that the truck was too tight, and Shelton radioed back to his driver that the team would fix him up on the next stop. After stalking the top five for many laps, Buescher finally cracked it on lap 53 and was running lap times quicker than the trucks in front of him.
Just as Buescher was scheduled to hit pit road for a green flag pit stop on lap 73, a yellow flag once again covered the 1.5-mile CMS, saving Buescher from having to pit under green-flag conditions. During this pit stop, Buescher came down and took four Goodyear Wrangler tires, Sunoco fuel and made a host of chassis adjustments in hopes to loosen up the No. 31 Rheem machine.
Continuing to run solidly in the top 10, Buescher was called on to make another great restart on lap 108. Hoping to make up some ground, Buescher saw a hole open up on the top side of the track and went for a three wide pass. During the attempt at the pass, a couple trucks below him got loose and slid up into the No. 31 Rheem Chevy, resulting in slight damage to the left front fender. During the second-to-final caution of the night, Buescher brought the Rheem Chevy back down pit road to the attention of his crew to take four tires and fix the damage on the left front fender.
Restarting the event back in the 19th spot, Buescher had his work cut out for him to make it back up to the top 10. Despite there being just under 20 laps remaining, that didn’t stop the team’s determination to bring home a second-consecutive top 10 as Buescher swiftly worked his way through the field and brought home a solid sixth-place finish. In the process, James Buescher and the Rheem team had a good points night, moving him up to a tie with fourth place in the championship standings.
“I’m really proud of my guys this weekend,” said Buescher. “It was a long weekend with lots of practice and they continued to work really hard right to the very end. We had a great truck here, and I’m happy that we were able to bring the Rheem Chevy Silverado home in the sixth place and continue our charge up the point standings. I can’t wait to get to Dover and continue our momentum.”
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is off next weekend but returns to action again on May 31, when they visit the high-banked 1-mile oval of Dover International Speedway.