Buescher escapes damage with an 11th-place finish and holds points lead with two to go
James Buescher who grew up in Plano Texas, just 40 miles away from the Texas Motor Speedway, came into the WinStar World Casinos 350 as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) points leader with a 21 point margin over his nearest competitor. In the early going, it looked as if Buescher was on track for a maximum points night until when on a mid-race restart, Buescher received some damage changing the handling of the truck. Buescher and the Great Clips team held on to a respectable 11th-place finish and maintained his points lead with just two events left on the 2012 NCWTS schedule.
Turner Motorsports brought the same truck that has been responsible for all four of Buescher’s wins this season to Texas Motor Speedway. Throughout practice on Thursday, it was obvious that they were a force to be reckoned with after posting third quick time in both practice sessions.
“The truck is handling great. I think we have a solid truck for the race,” said Buescher following practice.
Buescher went out late in qualifying due to his practice speeds and posted a solid lap, jumping to the top of the board with just two of his Turner Motorsports teammates left to qualify. It wasn’t until the last qualifier, Nelson Piquet Jr., that he was knocked down to the second starting position for the WinStar World Casino 350 event.
When the green flag released the 36-truck field, Buescher battled side-by-side with Piquet for the lead and eventually settled back into the third position. He raced patiently, trying to conserve his equipment and waiting for the correct time to make a charge up to the front. On lap 25, Buescher radioed into the crew.
“I’m loose, entering the corner and tight from the center off," he reported. "The track is really slick, it probably won’t be long until we see a yellow.”
Buescher was correct with that statement, when on lap 32, a yellow flag flew for a competitor that got into the outside retaining wall. Buescher brought his No.31 Great Clips Chevy Silverado down to the attention of his crew for four Goodyear Wrangler tires, Sunoco fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment in the left rear tire.
Thanks to a solid pit stop by the Great Clips crew, Buescher restarted in the second position. Heading into turn one, he was forced to the middle of three cars. Buescher made it through turns one and two unscathed. “Keep your foot in it,” spotter, Jeff Dickerson said over the radio in encouragement. The Great Clips machine headed down the backstretch, this time four-wide. By the time they reached turn three, Buescher came out on top and went to the lead, receiving a valuable bonus point for a leading a lap. He went on to lead 31 laps in all during the 147-lap event.
The field was slowed for the second of two yellow flags after a competitor blew an engine on lap 66. Buescher led the field down to pit road for the second stop of the evening, this time taking four tires and fuel with no changes to the truck. Restarting second, while coming to the green flag, one of the leaders spun their tires and caused an accordion effect in which Buescher was tapped from behind and into to the leader. The result of that contact left Buescher with damage to his right rear quarter panel and pushed the splitter up, causing the truck to have a tight condition. While crew chief Michael Shelton gathered the team to formulate a plan to fix the damage during an eventual pit stop, Buescher started his drop down the ranks landing in the 10th position.
It wasn’t until lap 114 when an unfavorable green flag pit stop brought Buescher back down pit road again, this time for four tires and fuel. The crew went to work on the truck to repair the damage, however, it wasn’t enough. The race stayed under the green flag for the rest of the race, and Buescher, in the No.31 Great Clips Silverado held onto an 11th-place finish. Buescher still holds onto the points lead by 15 points heading into the second to last event of the 2012 season.
“It's certainly disappointing after having a strong Great Clips truck all of practice and early in the race to receive damage on a restart. I’m proud of my guys for sticking with me and coming up with a plan to keep us in the points lead. It could have been worse but we never gave up fighting. We have a brand new truck for Phoenix so I’m looking forward to getting out there next week and hopefully put Exide Batteries back into victory lane.”
The next stop for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be out in the desert at the 1-mile tri-oval of Phoenix International Raceway. This stop will mark the second to last top of season. The Lucas Oil 150 can be seen live on SPEED on Friday starting at 7:30pm ET.
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