Chris Buescher scores 1st career Nationwide win at Mid-Ohio

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Late-race fuel issues threatened, but Chris Buescher kept going all the way to his first checkered flag in the NASCAR Nationwide Series today at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Buescher claimed the lead with 24 laps to go but still had to worry about fuel on his No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford despite getting help from a caution involving Jeff Green with 20 laps to go.

On the final lap, Regan Smith began to cut into Buescher’s lead and in the last few corners, Buescher encountered the lapped car of Tim Cowen.

With a win on the line, Buescher moved Cowen up as they went through the Carousel and then drove to a 1.1 second-win over Smith.

“It was nerve-wracking,” Buescher told ESPN. “I wasn’t sure if I was happy or disappointed [with the Green caution]. I knew we’d have a little more fuel, so that was gonna be good, but it bunched us all up there.

“But this Ford Mustang was fast and we pulled right away – actually, we were just cruising there at the end. My fuel pressure light started flashing at me. But I wasn’t about to tell [crew chief] Scott [Graves] that.”

Brian Scott finished third, followed by Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott in fourth, and Alex Tagliani in fifth. Scott led a race-high 39 laps, the bulk of which came in the first half of the race.

Scott and Sam Hornish Jr. battled for the lead as the race moved to the middle stages with Buescher right behind them. Then on Lap 51, Hornish suddenly went to the garage after he damaged the motor after missing a shift; he would return to the pits later, but did not come back to the race.

In a separate incident on the same lap, Kenny Habul came to a stop in the Keyhole grass to bring out the caution. Race leader Scott then led the front runners to the pits, but he was blocked in by Buescher and had to back up in order to get out of his box. That cost him several positions as Smith and Tagliani beat him out of the pits.

A group of nine drivers led by Trevor Bayne stayed out to go ahead of the previous leaders that pitted. When the green came back out at Lap 55, those previous leaders were led by Smith in 10th.

Scott suffered further issues when he and Tagliani made contact coming out of Mid-Ohio’s rhythm section, sending him off-course. On Lap 59, Scott hit the pits to have his crew clear the accumulated grass on his grille and top up the car on fuel.

With 29 to go, Bayne finally went in for service, handing the point to Brendan Gaughan (who had last pitted on Lap 41). Five laps later, Gaughan went in himself and Buescher assumed control.

Running behind Buescher in second was Green. But with 20 laps to go, Green’s throttle reportedly stuck open as he went into Turn 5 and he ran straight into the tire barriers to bring out caution No. 5. He was evaluated and later released from the infield care center.

NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES AT MID-OHIO – Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200
Unofficial Results

1. 60-Chris Buescher, led 25 laps
2. 7-Regan Smith
3. 2-Brian Scott, led 39 laps
4. 9-Chase Elliott
5. 22-Alex Tagliani
6. 31-Justin Marks
7. 11-Elliott Sadler
8. 42-Dylan Kwasniewski
9. 6-Trevor Bayne, led 9 laps
10. 43-Dakoda Armstrong
11. 19-Mike Bliss
12. 16-Ryan Reed
13. 40-Matt DiBenedetto
14. 01-Landon Cassill
15. 23-Cody Ware
16. 39-Ryan Sieg
17. 17-Tanner Berryhill
ONE LAP DOWN
18. 86-Tim Cowen
19. 3-Ty Dillon
20. 62-Brendan Gaughan, led 5 laps
TWO LAPS DOWN
21. 44-Carlos Contreras
THREE LAPS DOWN
22. 51-Jeremy Clements
23. 93-Tomy Drissi
FIVE LAPS DOWN
24. 74-Bobby Reuse
SIX LAPS DOWN
25. 99-James Buescher
NINE LAPS DOWN
26. 28-J.J. Yeley
10 LAPS DOWN
27. 52-Joey Gase

28. 4-Jeffrey Earnhardt, Lap 72, Running
29. 14-Jeff Green, Lap 70, Accident
30. 54-Sam Hornish Jr., led 12 laps, Lap 51, Engine
31. 20-Kenny Habul, Lap 51, Engine
32. 70-Derrike Cope, Lap 43, Suspension
33. 87-Stanton Barrett, Lap 35, Transmission
34. 79-John Jackson, Lap 13, Electrical
35. 10-Blake Koch, Lap 12, Vibration
36. 15-Carl Long, Lap 11, Suspension
37. 55-Timmy Hill, Lap 10, Brakes
38. 46-Josh Reaume, Lap 7, Electrical
39. 77-Roger Reuse, Lap 3, Transmission

IMSA: Heavy news week leading into Thanksgiving holiday

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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After the weekend and before the Thanksgiving holiday this week, IMSA has rolled out a number of announcements itself, while IMSA could be set for further announcements in the weeks to come starting next week.

Here’s a roundup:

QUALIFYING AT ROAR SET FOR PIT POSITIONS, GARAGES AT ROLEX 24

Here are key notes from IMSA’s Monday release about how Sunday at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 will take on a greater significance:

  • The pit boxes and garages each team will use during the Rolex 24 will now be allocated based on fastest qualifying times set during Sunday’s third and final day of the Roar. Each of the three WeatherTech Championship classes – Prototype (P), GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) – will have a 15-minute qualifying session on Sunday, Jan. 7.
  • The fastest-qualifying Prototype will receive the first pit box on pit lane starting at pit-in and also will be assigned to the first garage in the Prototype section of the WeatherTech Championship garage. The fastest GTD car will receive the second pit box on pit lane and the first garage in the GTD section, with the fastest GTLM car receiving the third pit box and the first garage in the GTLM section.
  • New for 2018 – P and GTLM will pit together under a full course yellow. Therefore, to give class separation in the pits, P and GTLM teams are assigned pit boxes to ensure they are separated by a GTD Team.

This, coupled with the addition of the first IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda one-hour, 45-minute race with two drivers, will make this a more shaken up Roar.

REGS, REGS, GET YOUR REGS

IMSA has released the Sporting and Technical Regulations for 2018 this week. The aforementioned note about P and GTLM teams pitting together is a change from P and Prototype Challenge (PC) class cars pitting together, with GTLM and GTD together as it was this year.

Restart procedures changed will see P cars moved to the lead ahead of GT cars; this created confusion at times throughout 2017 as sometimes another class leader in PC, GTLM or GTD had been the first car behind a pace car.

Each team will be limited to one car change in-season only, subject to “force majeure.”

On the off chance a driver is racing in two cars, his or her maximum drive time will be counted cumulatively between the two cars.

There are other tweaks, of course, but most are largely procedural or within the fine print.

RATINGS REVEALED

The good news with IMSA going down from four classes to three for 2018 is that only one designated pro-am class remains in the form of GT Daytona, which requires at least one Silver (or Bronze) full-season driver alongside the designated pro. Those sneaky “Super Silvers” remain an invaluable asset for using his or her results to their benefit.

The FIA released the initial driver ratings for 2018 this week with a few changes, some young pros going up from Silver to Gold and others getting their request to get downgraded from Gold to Silver approved. Drivers have a couple weeks to appeal if they so desire.

Here’s your friendly reminder of what drivers can be in what GTD cars for the first two races at Daytona and Sebring:

  • Daytona (5 drivers max): GTD: In any nominated two (2) or three (3) Driver combination, a maximum of one (1) Platinum or Gold rated Driver is permitted. In any nominated four (4) or five (5) Driver combination, a maximum of one (1) Platinum and (1) Gold rated Driver are permitted or a maximum of (2) Gold Drivers.
  • Sebring (4 drivers max): GTD: In any nominated two (2) or three (3) Driver combination, a maximum of one (1) Platinum or Gold rated Driver is permitted. In any nominated four (4) Driver combination, a maximum of one (1) Platinum and (1) Gold rated Driver are permitted or a maximum of (2) Gold Drivers.

MAZDA KEEPS ON TESTING, CLOSES ON ANNOUNCEMENTS

The Los Angeles Auto Show, held after Thanksgiving, is a likely landing spot for Mazda Team Joest to reveal, officially, its revised “Evo” version of the Mazda RT24-P and its driver lineup for the 2018 season. While most of the Prototype class lineups (DPi and LMP2-spec cars) have been revealed, Mazda’s has been an exception. In the interim, not long after its Daytona test late last month, they’ve also been testing at Sebring.

FROM SPACE CENTER TO DOWN UNDER

Jordan Taylor undertook testing of a different kind not long ago at, of all places, the Kennedy Space Center. One of this year’s Prototype class champions was undertaking a straight line test in his No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. Taylor being Taylor, the moment couldn’t pass without him winning at social media (see third tweet).

Taylor goes from down a long runway to down under, visiting his first Virgin Australia Supercars Championship race this weekend at its season finale in Newcastle.

‘MAKING OF A CHAMPION’ PIECES ROLL OUT

The fourth installment of IMSA’s “making of a champion” series highlights Jordan Taylor, who co-drove with brother Ricky to the Prototype class championship this year. These two are part of four done by IMSA so far, along with Pato O’Ward (PC) and Christina Nielsen (GTD). More should follow in the coming weeks.

SPEAKING OF CHAMPS, HINDMAN, AGOSTINI, PRESTIGE WIN LAMBORGHINI WORLD FINAL

The Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Final was held last weekend at the Imola circuit in Italy and the American Prestige Performance team won the World Final overall, with co-drivers Trent Hindman and Riccardo Agostini.

The World Final brings together teams from North America, Europe and Asia that campaign the spec Lamborghini Huracán LP 620-2 in Super Trofeo regional competition. Hindman and Agostini got the weekend off on the right foot by winning the North American championship first, then followed it up at the World Final itself to topple all other domestic and international entries.

You might remember we profiled Hindman last month, as the 22-year-old’s star in the sports car world is clearly on the rise.

Somehow, someway, at the end of the day today we received the title 2017 Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Champions. Race 2 was not perfect and much more nerve racking than we would have hoped but fortunately in the end the job was done. I am honored to be sharing this with @rickyagostini as well as the entire @prestigeperfctr @waynetaylorracing team and I thank them for their incredible effort all year. With this result, we are the first ever American team to win the Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Championship overall. 3/4 overall wins along with the Super Trofeo North America and World titles marks the end of a successful 2017 campaign. Back to reality tomorrow. Thank you all for following us along on this incredible journey.

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