Chris Buescher put together a solid start to his 2023 season Sunday afternoon, finishing fourth in the Daytona 500 after earning stage points in each of the first two stages at Daytona International Speedway.
“We were up front a lot of the day between both of our cars and there is a ton to be proud of,” said Buescher after his third top-5 in the Daytona 500. “I can’t thank everyone back at RFK enough. The Fastenal Mustang was quick, and I love that. Just got a little behind there in the first overtime and survived the next one. Somehow we made it through all of that and picked up all kinds of spots. Ultimately even getting back to fourth, it should feel good, but I feel like we had more in us today and just weren’t able to hoist that trophy up.”
Buescher, who finished fourth in his Duel Thursday night, put the Fastenal machine ninth on the grid to start ‘The Great American Race.’ He and teammate Brad Keselowski showed poise early, maintaining the top-10 position through the opening laps before eventually driving up to third to end the opening stage of 65 laps.
After a pit stop for service in the stage break, he restarted 10th for stage two. When the field of Ford Mustangs hit pit road at lap 108, Buescher was unable to get position to maneuver his way to pit road, so the team stayed out and the strategy paid off, putting him P1 for the first time at lap 116. He pitted for service under a caution at lap 118 and would restart 14th with six to go in the second stage, ultimately driving back inside the top-10 for more stage points in ninth.
Following a stop for fuel only, Buescher restarted third for the final stage that saw a combined five cautions. He ran second for the opening laps of the segment before taking over at the point with 45 to go, with Keselowski in tow.
The duo hit pit road for what would’ve been the final pit stop at the time with 25 to go under green. Then, he cycled to 11th when a caution flew with 17 to go. He and Keselowski were back inside the top-6 with three to go when another caution came out, but got shuffled back for the ensuing restart. It was the first of two NASCAR overtime restarts with Buescher ninth on the inside line, before another yellow for a crash halted the field.
The amount of caution laps brought Buescher down pit road for fuel under the final caution break of the day, setting him up 17th on what was the final restart. A nine-car incident ultimately ended the race with Buescher slashing his way through to finish fourth.
The No. 17 team returns to action next week as the West Coast swing kicks off with a Sunday afternoon race at Auto Club Speedway. Race coverage is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, with radio coverage on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.