The points race for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is as tight as the action on the track at Talladega Superspeedway. And James Buescher finds himself closely involved in both.
Buescher turned in a fast lap of 177.676 mph on Friday to take the pole position for Saturday’s running of the Coca-Cola 250 Powered By fred’s Truck Series race. That will place him on the track directly in front of Austin Dillon, who qualified third and happens to be the points leader.
Dillon holds a slim five-point lead over Johnny Sauter (who qualified 20th) and a seven-point edge over Buescher with four races remaining. So when the green flag flies at 3 p.m. Saturday, Buescher said there will be no points racing, only hard racing.
“You race as hard as you can to get the best possible finish you can, and then the points will work themselves out,” Buescher said. “You don’t gauge yourself off what those other guys are doing. You just try to go out and get the maximum points.”
Nelson Piquet Jr. qualified second, as he continues to compete for NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year. Ricky Carmichael qualified fourth, followed by Ron Hornaday Jr. in fifth. Hornaday trails Dillon in the standings by 21 points.
Mike Wallace qualified sixth, Joey Coulter seventh, Johanna Long eighth, Parker Kligerman ninth and Cole Whitt 10th. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch qualified 17th, and Alabama native Grant Enfinger was 18th.
Buescher said he plans to be “patiently aggressive” during Saturday’s race.
“We’re not leading the points, we’re third. So we still have to try to outrun those guys and gain points on them,” said Buescher, who also sat on the pole at Talladega Superspeedway for the 2008 ARCA race. “It’s definitely a tight championship battle.”
Dillon, the grandson of Sprint Cup Series car owner Richard Childress, said he is looking forward to the drafting strategy and close-quarter racing that takes place at Talladega Superspeedway.
“It’s a lot of fun to come here and draft,” Dillon said. “I had a blast today during practice messing around with the two-car tandem and trying to get it to work. It’s like gaining 100 horsepower when you get it to hook up. It’s pretty wild. It’s going to be a crazy race.
“We don’t have a big cushion (in the standings), but at least we have a cushion. This is a tough race. You just don’t know how it’s going to go. Anybody can win it. We’re going to put it all on the line and hopefully we can come out with at least a top-five finish.”
Prior to the Coca-Cola 250 Powered by fred’s, there will be Foodland/Food Giant Qualifying beginning at 11:15 a.m. Saturday to set the starting lineup for Sunday’s Good Sam Club 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.