James Buescher came into the Michigan National Guard 200 at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) looking to put the previous outing behind him and his Rheem team. Coming off solid practice sessions and a stellar qualifying effort, Buescher started the 100-lap race in the third position. After dropping back in the field for the first half of the race, Buescher worked his way up to the top five with under 10 laps remaining. Coming to three laps to go, Buescher made a great move on the first and second-place trucks in Turn 3 and vaulted himself to first. Buescher grabbed the lead and never looked back, earning his first victory of 2013. In the process, Buescher moved up one position in the championship standings to third and is now just one marker behind second place.
The Rheem team felt like they had a great truck at Pocono, so they worked to quickly turn it around, preparing the chassis for this week’s race at MIS. This proved to be a smart decision as the No. 31 team finished second and ninth in Friday’s two practice sessions, respectively. Buescher followed up his practice results with a third-place qualifying effort for the Michigan National Guard 200. As soon as the green flag flew on the 100-lap event, it was quickly slowed by a yellow for an accident on the backstretch. Following the first restart, Buescher fell back a few positions and searched for a place to settle in and log some laps. The yellow flag flew once again on lap 17,which allowed the Rheem team to call the No. 31 truck down pit road for two right-side tires and fuel. Once the race went back to green, Buescher found himself battling for the 10th position. On lap 35, Buescher radioed to his crew that his Rheem Chevy was still a little too free entering the corners. Despite this, Buescher was recording the fastest lap times of any of the trucks on the track. The yellow flag was once again displayed on lap 57 for debris on the backstretch. This yellow put the No. 31 team within their fuel window, so Buescher came back down pit road for four tires and a slight air-pressure adjustment as his Rheem team their Chevy full with Sunoco fuel.
Following this pit stop, Buescher began to creep back into contention and move closer to the top five. With the laps dwindling down, Buescher found himself back inside the top five for the first time since lap four of the race. Following two more cautions, the No.31 Rheem team restarted in the third position, directly behind their Turner Scott Motorsports teammate Miguel Paludo. The two leaders got a great restart and Buescher dropped back to fourth with just five laps to go. Just one lap later, Buescher was able get that position back on the frontstretch. As the field was coming to three laps to go, Buescher made a move down to the bottom of Turn 3 and passed both first and second place, giving Buescher the lead. The 23-year-old never looked back and went on to win his first race of the 2013 season. This victory moves Buescher up to third in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Driver Points Standings, just one point behind second place.
“I’ve got to thank everyone on this team and really want to thank Rheem for coming on board with us this year,” said Buescher. “I knew we had a shot at this, but the first half of the race was tough. We couldn’t catch any breaks and couldn’t get into position where we needed to be, and it was tough battling through traffic. We got the balance right at the end and figured out where I needed to position myself to make passes at the end. I can’t say enough about these guys. They never give up, and we’re going to go after that championship now.”
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will return right back to action under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway Wednesday August 18 at 8pm live on Fox Sports 1.