Buescher Earns Sixth-Place Finish at Texas Motor Speedway
Hometown hero James Buescher didn't go down without a fight when he returned to Texas Motor Speedway (TMS), the track where he first cut his teeth in racing. Starting in the sixth position for the WinStar World Casino 350, Buescher fell back just a couple positions in the early going, but after some stellar pit stops by his Rheem crew, Buescher gained valuable track position which kept them in contention. The battles on the track heated up between Buescher and his closest competitors, but a tight-handling Rheem Chevrolet caused for Buescher and the No. 31 team to slip back in the running order. Buescher battled until the bitter end, however, bringing home a sixth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway.
After two practice sessions on Thursday evening, the No. 31 Rheem team found a balance in their Silverado that they were happy with going into Friday afternoon's qualifying session. With his qualifying effort, Buescher posted the sixth-fastest time for the WinStar World Casino 350. At the start of the 147-lap event, Buescher slipped back in the running order slightly before settling into the eighth position. On lap 25 and under the first yellow-flag period, Buescher radioed to his crew that he was lacking front grip. Crew chief Michael Shelton took this into account for making adjustments to their Rheem Chevy. Coming down pit road for the first pit stop of the night in the 10th position, Buescher received four tires, fuel and both chassis and air-pressure adjustments. A great stop by the pit crew vaulted their No. 31 up to the seventh position. Just a couple laps into the next green-flag run, Buescher went three-wide down the backstretch to move from seventh into the fifth position. On lap 40, Buescher came back over the radio and said his truck was still lacking front grip. Buescher searched around for different grooves, and on lap 57, he decided to run the middle, and finding that it was three-tenths quicker than any other line he had previously run. Under the second yellow flag of the night on lap 59, Buescher brought his No. 31 back down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment. Restarting in the third position, Buescher quickly took advantage of the track position and forced a three-wide pass going down the backstretch for the lead. Clearing one of the two trucks, Buescher and the No. 3 continued their side-by-side battle for the lead before he eventually settled back into the second spot. Following the tight battle, Buescher told his team, "Don't worry guys. It's still early and we'll have something for them later on."
Buescher would run in the second position for the next 30 laps until the last yellow flag of the night was displayed. Buescher brought his truck back down pit road for his final pit stop, once again taking four Goodyear Wrangler Tires and Sunoco fuel. Still battling a tight-handling truck, the crew also adjusted their Rheem Chevrolet with a slight air-pressure adjustment. With 40 laps to go, Buescher restarted the race in the fifth spot. With another solid restart, Buescher found himself in yet another fierce battle with the No. 3 for second place. Although Buescher took the spot for a couple of laps, his Rheem Chevy proved to be too tight to fight maintain it. Buescher battled intensely for the remaining stretch of the race and was able to bring home a sixth-place finish at his home track.
"I thought it was a solid showing for our Rheem team," said Buescher. "We had a great truck for the short green-flag runs, but unfortunately, the race had all long green-flag runs. My pit crew had some amazing stops all night long that gained us some valuable track position. We'll go on to Phoenix looking to put another mark in the win column."