James Buescher and his Rheem crew came into the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway with nothing to lose and looked to rebound after an accident at Talladega Superspeedway last week that cut their day short. Starting the 200-lap race from the seventh position, Buescher had an up-and-down day, running as high as fifth and as low as 18th. After a spin on lap 129 dropped them deep in the running order, Buescher and his No. 31 Rheem team battled back to come home with a 10th-place finish. In the process, Buescher was able to gain some valuable points and move back into second place in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Driver Point Standings.
On a bitterly cold fall afternoon in Virginia, Buescher and his No. 31 Rheem team looked to capitalize on their solid qualifying spot for the Kroger 200. Following the drop of the green flag, Buescher moved up two spots in the running order to fifth just before the first of the race's 10 yellow flags was displayed on lap four. When the field restarted the 200-lap event, they seemed to calm their nerves and settle in. During a long green-flag stretch, Buescher started to slip back in the running order, running as far back as 15th. During the run, Buescher radioed to his Rheem crew that his Chevrolet Silverado was extremely loose through the entire corner. The race saw its second yellow flag on lap 70, giving the Rheem team a chance to make adjustments. Buescher ducked down pit road to get four fresh Goodyear Wranglers, a full load of Sunoco fuel and a host of chassis adjustments. The Rheem crew's changes helped, as Buescher radioed the crew on lap 90 to say that he now had rear grip, but wondered if they had gone a little too far with their adjustments. The rash of yellow flags started on lap 92, and Buescher took advantage of the break to come back down pit road to reverse some of the changes from his previous stop and to top his Rheem Chevy off with fuel.
Many short green-flag stretches ensued, and Buescher just started to move up positions one-by-one. On lap 129, while running just outside the top10, Buescher received some contact from another competitor that sent his Rheem truck spinning, but he was able to avoid making any contact with the retaining walls. After making a pit stop for tires, Buescher restarted in the 16th position with just under 70 laps to go. On lap 154, Buescher was able to crack the top 10 again.. Not quitting there, Buescher grabbed ninth place before being shuffled back a few positions. On the race's last restart on lap 195, Buescher restarted in the 10th spot and looked to salvage a solid finish. Buescher did just that, earning his 12th top-10 finish of the season and his fourth at Martinsville Speedway. With some of the other championship contenders running into issues during the Kroger 200, Buescher was able to overtake second place in the points and close the gap on the leader.
"It was definitely an up-and-down day for my entire Rheem team, but we kept our heads in it and were able to fight back for a solid finish," said Buescher. "In the race, we battled the same handling issues that we had in practice, so we had an idea of what adjustments we needed to make. My Rheem team made some great calls to get our No. 31 Chevy handling better and gave me a truck to put us back into contention. At a place like Martinsville, you are never out of it; you just have to keep taking all you can until the checkered flag falls. We were able to do that today, which allowed us to gain some points in the championship standings. Hopefully we can do that again when we get to Texas Motor Speedway."
The NCWTS returns to action at Buescher's home track of Texas Motor Speedway for the WinStar World Casino 350 on Friday, November 1. The event can be seen live on FOX Sports 1 at 8:00 pm EDT. The race can also be heard live on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, channel 90 and MRN Radio.