After a surprising qualifying lap for James Buescher, the No. 31 Rheem team started the Lucas Oil 150 in the fourth position. Once racing began, Buescher quickly pressured for the second running spot. On the first pit stop of the race, the Rheem team opted to take four tires, fuel and make a chassis change by adding a spring rubber. Dropping back in the running order due to differing tire strategies, Buescher lost valuable track position and as the race unfolded, he was unable to regain position. Despite their struggles, Buescher was able to bring his Rheem team their first top-10 finish at Phoenix International Raceway and their 14th of the season.
After two practice sessions on Thursday afternoon, the No. 31 Rheem team concentrated on making their Chevrolet Silverado better in race trim, opting not to make a mock-qualifying run in the final session. Unsure of where they would fall in their qualifying lap, the team was pleasantly surprised when they qualified in the fourth position for the Lucas Oil 150. When the green flag released the 36-truck field, Buescher was turning fast laps and quickly worked his way into the second position. When the second yellow was displayed, Buescher brought his Silverado down pit road for four tires, fuel and a spring-rubber adjustment with hopes of loosening up their truck. Under the same caution period, some teams throughout the field opted to take only two tires, putting the No. 31 back in the running order. On lap 45, while running ninth, Buescher radioed to the crew that his truck was now "wrecking loose," which would cause Buescher to slip back into the 13th-position. Just past the halfway mark on lap 89, Buescher gave up the ninth position to duck down pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and removal of the spring rubber that the Rheem team added during the first stop.
Restarting in the 13th position with the original setup that the team started the race with, Buescher radioed to the crew, "Let's get back to work." With the second half of the race plagued by yellow flags, Buescher couldn't get a much-needed long run to gain track position back. With fewer than 30 laps to go in the 150-lap race, Buescher was running back in the top 10 for the first time in nearly 70 laps and receiving heavy pressure for the ninth position. Buescher, however, was able to hang on and score a ninth-place finish.
"In the opening laps of the race I thought we had a really good truck, but we were just slightly tight," said Buescher "We tried to set ourselves up for the late-race run during that first pit stop, but track position proved to be key tonight. We just weren't able to get it back after our first stop but we were still able to get our first top-10 finish at Phoenix. We'll move on to Homestead and hopefully end our season on a high note."
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday, November 15 for their season finale. The Ford EcoBoost 200 can be seen live on FOX Sports 1 at 8:00 pm EST. The race can also be heard live on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, channel 90 and MRN Radio.