Chris Buescher makes name for himself with second-place Nationwide showing at Talladega

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When NASCAR fans hear the surname “Buescher,” it’s likely that most think of James, who won the 2012 Camping World Truck Series and who is currently eighth in this year’s Nationwide Series standings.

But after a career-best finish of second-place in Saturday’s Aaron’s 312 NNS race at Talladega Superspeedway, there’s another Buescher that fans should keep their eyes on: namely, Chris Buescher.

The younger cousin of James Buescher, Chris barely missed taking the checkered flag in Saturday’s race, finishing second to eventual winner Elliott Sadler.

“I’m still very new to this speedway racing, so to be able to pull off a second is really cool to me,” Buescher said. “Obviously, it’s a track that a lot of people will say there’s a lot of luck involved and I don’t doubt that one bit, but we worked very hard to go from eighth to last to back to second.”

Even though he was second, it was almost like a win for Buescher, who has had a mixed-bag of a season thus far in his rookie NNS season with Roush Fenway Racing.

In addition to Saturday being his first NNS career top-five and third third top-10 in 2014, he also has had his struggles, like 27th at Texas and a season-worst 34th at Darlington.

“Obviously, when things happen that aren’t your fault it’s hard on everybody and you sit and think about what could have been,” Buescher said. “With the beginning of the season and the way it played out, we’re not really in a points Chase, so we sat down after Darlington and said, ‘You know what, it’s time to go try and win some races.’ And I think that mindset is gonna help us going forward.”

Buescher came into Talladega after a prior career-best finish of seventh last week at Richmond. Now, with back-to-back new career bests, he can’t wait to see what he can do in the next NNS race in two weeks at Iowa Speedway.

A win perhaps for the native of Prosper, Texas?

“I think this will be really big for us.,” Buescher said. “We’ve been running in a position to be able to do this, we just haven’t been able to finish all of our races like this. It’s cool to be able to get that momentum and keep it rolling.”

While many fans point to cousin James’ success, Chris has also had his share of success. In the same season that James won the NCWTS championship (2012), Chris won the ARCA championship.

His finishes at Richmond and Talladega will definitely help his and the team’s confidence and motivation going forward, although he lamented that next weekend is an off-weekend until Iowa on March 18.

“I don’t know if I really want this off-weekend at this point,” he said. “I want to keep going, but Iowa is a really cool race track and anything we can take from here may just be the fact that we have momentum on our side.

“We’re capable of running this well. Richmond was some place that was halfway similar to Iowa, where you can take some notes and move them over. With our run there, I think we should be able to show up in Iowa and have a really solid run.”

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MRTI: Lucas Oil Raceway Recap

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Friday marked Carb Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, but there was also plenty of activity over in Brownsburg, Indiana at Lucas Oil Raceway.

Friday night’s Carb Night Classic featured the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda in their first oval events of the year: the Freedom 75 (USF2000) and the Freedom 90 (Pro Mazda).

Both races saw the points leaders in their respective series dominate, further asserting their championship prowess, and taking their first oval victories in the process.

Recaps of both races are below.

Pro Mazda: Thompson Holds Off Cunha for First Oval Win

The Freedom 90 saw Parker Thompson appear to be almost on cruise control for much of the race, as the Exclusive Autosport driver immediately jumped into the lead off the initial start and he began rocketing away from the field.

Behind him, a pair of Juncos Racing cars emerged in second and third, with Carlos Cunha ahead of Robert Megennis in that battle.

However, Thompson’s initial lead was wiped out following a Lap 46 crash involving David Malukas and Harrison Scott. The pair had been engaged in an intense battle for fourth, but came together in Turn 4, sending Scott spinning into the outside wall while Malukas eventually came to a stop alongside the front straightaway wall.

Thompson again pulled away when racing resumed on Lap 55, while Cunha immediately gave chase, passing the lapped car of Lodovico Laurini as he tried to keep Thompson in his sights.

Lapped traffic continued to play a key role in the closing stages, with Thompson getting briefly held up behind Nikita Lastochkin and Oliver Askew, allowing Cunha to close onto his gearbox in the final laps.

However, Thompson kept Cunha at bay to take the win, his third of the Pro Mazda season. Megennis drove a solid race to finish third, while Rinus VeeKay put three Juncos cars in the top five by finishing fourth. Team Pelfrey’s Sting Ray Robb finished fifth.

Thompson’s win sees him extend his points lead over VeeKay to 36, with Cunha only two points further back in third.

USF2000: Kirkwood Rolls to Victory in Oval Debut

Kyle Kirkwood was untouchable at Lucas Oil Raceway. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

If his first career oval proved a challenge for Cape Motorsports’ Kyle Kirkwood, he certainly did not show it. Starting on the pole, Kirkwood rocketed away into the lead and was never challenged.

Behind him, however, his closest title rival faltered. Alex Baron, who charged from eighth to third on Lap 1, crashed out while working his way around the lapped car of Russ McDonough. Baron was visibly upset and frustrated while walking along the pit lane after climbing out of the No. 29 Swan-RJB Motorsports Tatuus USF-17.

Racing only briefly returned to green on Lap 40 before Zach Holden rode up and over the back of Julian van der Watt, with both cars coming to a stop on the back straightaway.

A restart on Lap 50 again saw Kirkwood pull away, while Kaylen Frederick worked his way up to second around Rasmus Lindh and Lucas Kohl.

The race came to a close only eight laps later – the cautions brought a 30-minute time limit into play, preventing them from completing the originally planned 75-lap race.

In the end, no one got close to Kirkwood, who took a win on his oval debut, his third win of the 2018 season. Frederick came home second for his first podium of the year, and his first with Pabst Racing Services, while Rasmus Lindh rounded out the podium in third. Kohl and Jose Sierra completed the top five in fourth and fifth.

Kirkwood’s win combined with Baron’s crash to give Kirkwood a championship lead of 44 points. Sierra remains third, one point ahead of Igor Fraga.

Both series are back in action for double-headers at Road America on June 23-24.

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