Daytona 500 Media Day (Chris Buescher)

CHRIS BUESCHER, No. 17 Fastenal Ford Mustang Dark Horse HOW MUCH DO SIM SESSIONS HELP YOU WHEN YOU HAVE TO GO TO NEW TRACKS, LIKE IOWA THIS YEAR?  “I feel like when we go to places like in Iowa or Chicago street course, something like that, you don’t really have the ability to use all of the sim time and those tools to really set up. It starts to come down to more of your racing knowledge. So, makes it a challenge for everybody, and I do enjoy that. Iowa, I’m really excited about. That’s a track I’ve been hoping we’d go to for a really long time. So, really, really pumped that that one worked out. I got to race Xfinity and ARCA there and had an absolute blast. It was pretty rough back then, and that was almost 10 years ago. ago so I’d imagine you know some of the the touch-ups are probably needed at this point to get it smoothed out.”

THE REPAVE THAT THEY ARE DOING THERE, ARE YOU OKAY WITH THAT? “I never like repaves in general but it’s understandable that it was probably in need. Like I said it was really rough back then I know it was starting to to crumble and come apart a little bit that I remember. There were already patches, so as much as I hate it, yeah, I can see where it’s probably necessary.”

YOU HAVE THREE TOP-FIVE FINISHES IN THE 500. YOU WON HERE IN AUGUST. DO YOU FEEL LIKE A FAVORITE GOING INTO THIS WEEK? CAN ANYBODY REALLY FEEL LIKE A FAVORITE HERE? “I don’t know what the feeling is on it from anyone else I guess, but for us, I know we’re going to have a chance to win this thing. There’s not a doubt in my mind. With all three of our cars. So in that sense, I’m confident that we will be able to do that. We’ll be able to contend. There’s a luck factor when you come to these races. You gotta be able to survive some of the things that are outside of your doing and every one of these things, there’s always that accident that happens somewhere near you that you just narrowly get through. And I’ve heard the,, you make your own luck comments through the years and I don’t buy into that here. Not fully. There’s a certain amount of control you can, but there’s a certain amount of luck when it comes to some of these speedway races. We need a little bit of luck on our side, but outside of that I know that we have the talent behind the wheel for all three of our cars. I know we’re going to have a speed, like I said, and we’ve studied, we’ve made a game plan, we’ve tried to run through all the scenarios that we can predict, and we’re prepared for that.”

HOW VALUABLE IS IT TO HAVE DAVID (RAGAN) IN A THIRD CAR HERE THIS YEAR? “David, first off is a good friend and someone who mentored me a ton coming in and helped me get into this world professionally so it’s so cool to have him as a teammate on the racetrack. I think that’s gonna be a lot of fun. Secondly, he’s extremely good at speedway racing. I don’t think he gets enough credit for it. But it is very calculated. He studies very hard for these to the point where has been in contention to win this race several times throughout his career. So having a veteran speedway or veteran race car driver, one that really does so well superspeedway racing and having him here with us. I’m pumped for that too. And obviously got to race that one into the show. I feel like qualifying should be in good shape but it’s going to be a good source for all of us to be able to have another friend on the track.”

DAVID ISN’T THE ONLY GOOD SPEEDWAY RACER. HAVE YOU LEARNED MORE ABOUT THAT CRAFT SINCE YOU HAVE HAD BRAD (KESELOWSKI) AS A TEAMMATE?  “Yeah, for sure. I finished well speedway racing through Xfinity by being smart and surviving and having a little good luck along the way Somehow and when it got to my rookie season in Cup we crashed every single one of them. And not small crashes, like highlight reel crashes for a long time. That was what I got to see of myself on the commercials for superspeedway races. So certainly turned a corner from that but it has taken knowledge from those that are very good at it like Brad did to come to these places and study and figure out how to approach it. He’s very analytical in what he looks for everywhere we go, but it’s certainly been something that’s helped me understand what we’re after when we come to plate races. I think that it’s helped me really buckle down and understand that they can be enjoyable. I didn’t used to enjoy superspeedway racing for a long time. My career just didn’t care for it. I’ve gotten to the point now where it may not be my favorite, but I really do enjoy these. I’ve understood that there is that little bit of luck factor in there. And with that, just understand that is what it is. But having fast race cars has made it a lot more fun for me.”

DO YOU GO IN EXPECTING OVERTIME? “As of lately, yeah. I think, unfortunately, I think we’re crashing at the end of every superspeedway race right now, and not typically small crashes, so I think you have to game plan it. Statistically, I think you have to plan on it. We’ve played back the fall race even and talking about things we could have done different, maybe should have done different. Obviously, it worked out fine, but what if, right? What if that caution comes out at a different time? What if we’re not in the right scenario? What if we’re split apart? At that point, the one that went exactly right for us, we’re still ripping it apart trying to figure out what could have been better, what could have been worse. It’s the level of excitement or just impatience, it’s jacked up right there at the end. And that’s led to a lot of little mistakes that have created big big crashes.”

WHEN YOU AND BRAD AND I GUESS IN THIS CASE DAVID TOO ARE LOOKING BACK AT VIDEOS OF THIS RACE FROM THE PAST AND FIGURING OUT THINGS LIKE THE ANALYTICS, BUT EVEN LOOKING AT THOSE IT’S NOT EQUAL FOR ALL THREE OF YOU GUYS RIGHT? ONE OF YOU MIGHT WORK BETTER WITH SOME OTHER DRIVER THAN THE OTHER ONE TONIGHT. DOES THAT COME INTO PLAY WHEN YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT THINGS? “Yeah, certainly manufacturer alliances have been a whole lot more prominent in the last five or six years maybe. Another thing to that is our Ford bumpers line up very well with other Fords and that’s enabled us to be very aggressive pushing where we’ve watched our competitors try it and not be able to successfully. So while yes, through the years, Brad and David probably have people in mind that they’ve worked well with that may not be just our little core group that we’re talking about, but it’s hard to work with the other manufacturers in some of those ways if that’s who they have in their mind. That is something to keep in mind for us as we’re going through it is I think you’ve got to look hard for Ford teammates.” 

HOW MUCH DOES THAT LEVEL OF TRUST OR DISTRUST ENTER INTO YOUR MIND AT THE VERY END WHETHER THIS GUY IS GOING TO HELP ME OR DUMP ME? “I would not have wanted anybody else behind me last fall here, pushing as hard as we were pushing in the corner. If it had been anybody else I don’t think it finishes the way it does. We’re probably turned around backwards. We worked together all day long. We knew how to push each other, and how to connect well. We had that level of trust. I fully expected Brad to pull out of line there at the end and I think given the opportunity and some kind of momentum or run I think he would and we’d have ourselves a heck of a battle of the line. We’re not gonna wreck each other and we’ve talked that yeah the pushing is a big part of it you got to do it and it’s risky and you know at some point it’ll bite us and that’s just kind of understood it’s nothing intentional we are doing it for the best intentions for both of us but it’s hard to do and it’s hard to do correctly.” 

HOW DO YOU BEGIN TO DESCRIBE TO SOMEONE THAT YOU CAN BE LEADING THE DAYTONA 500 GOING INTO TURN FOUR HAVING THIS ANTICIPATION OF EXHILARATION AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN IT CAN END UP WHERE YOUR HEART GETS RIPPED OUT OF YOUR CHEST? “Yeah I’ve I’ve not made it quite that far around to where it’s changed right there for me. It’s changed two or three laps to go a couple of times and it’s hard to imagine it hurting worse than that. So I’m sure it does. We’ve had some scary moments there through the years too and it just happens in an instant and it’s just tough. You’re racing for a Daytona 500 win, it is our biggest race of the year when we’re all trying to knock the cobwebs off, so that’s a little tricky in itself, but it certainly creates some big moments. It’s hard. It really is. We’re all competitors. We’re all trying to win, and things are going to happen. I’d love to think that nobody’s out there intentionally wrecking those, but they’re being aggressive and pushing it for what they believe is an opportunity to better themselves for what they believe is an opportunity to better themselves. It can change in a heartbeat here.”

Ford Performance PR