Eighth-Place Finish at Chicagoland Speedway Caps Fifth Consecutive Top-10 Finish
James Buescher and the Rheem team came into the EnjoyIllinois.com 225 at Chicagoland Speedway as the defending race winner and were looking for their third win of the season. Carrying momentum from last week's victory at Iowa Speedway, Buescher appeared to be a viable contender in the middle portion of the 150-lap race when he went from eighth position to third in just under 10 laps. A tight-handling race truck in the final laps relinquished Buescher and his Rheem team to an eighth-place finish. This is the No. 31 Turner Scott Motorsports team's fifth consecutive top-10 finish.
The Rheem team unloaded a brand-new truck at Chicagoland Speedway looking to continue their cut into the Drivers Point Standings lead. The No. 31 Rheem looked solid, posting two top-10 results in the practice sessions Friday morning. Buescher and the No. 31 Rheem team backed up their practice times with a ninth-place qualifying effort for the EnjoyIllinois.com 225.
When the green flag released the 36-truck field, battles heated up when Buescher was forced three-wide on the first lap. Buescher slipped back to the 13th place before settling into a groove. Buescher radioed to his crew on lap four that his Rheem Chevrolet was really loose. Crew chief Michael Shelton acknowledged the handling issue and told Buescher that their Rheem team would get him fixed up on the next pit stop. The race's first yellow flag flew on lap 14 and Buescher took advantage of the caution to bring his Rheem Silverado down pit road for a full load of fuel and a chassis adjustment. Restarting in the ninth position, Buescher was once again put three wide, immediately slipping Buescher back in the running order for a couple laps before the field settled in for a long 30-lap green-flag run. During the run, Buescher worked his way up to eighth position. The Rheem team came down pit road for their second pit stop, this time taking four tires, fuel as well as a big chassis adjustment to correct the handling issues. The adjustments that Shelton gave Buescher made the No. 31 come to life as Buescher had a great ensuing restart, vaulting him from eighth to third in just nine laps. The third and fourth yellow flags were displayed right near the halfway mark of the 150-lap race. Still running inside the top five, Buescher's handling started to slip away when his No. 31 Rheem Chevy began to get very tight. With still just one pit stop left to make, the team got the opportunity when the yellow flag was displayed which just happened to be inside the team's fuel window. After the clean up was complete for the accident on the front stretch, Shelton ordered his driver down pit road to top off with fuel and take four fresh Goodyear Wrangler tires.
Restarting in the fourth position, Buescher wasn't able to hold off the charge from behind, forcing the No. 31 Rheem team to slip back in the running order on the long green-flag run to the checkered flag. Buescher fought very hard for an eighth-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway. Buescher remains second in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivers Point Standings with only six races left.
"It was looking like we were going to have a solid night," said Buescher. "After our second pit stop, Shelton called for some great adjustments to our Rheem Chevy and we were able to battle inside the top three before I settled into a groove. Unfortunately at the end, handling on our Rheem truck just went away on us. We'll take this top-10 finish and we'll take what we were able to learn this weekend and apply it to Las Vegas in a couple weeks and hopefully bring home another victory."
The NCWTS will have a week off before returning to action at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Smith's 350 on Saturday September 28 at 8:30pm EDT live on Fox Sports 1. The event can also be heard on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, channel 90 or MRN Radio.