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Heartbreak to Frustration, Chris Buescher Loses Tough at Darlington

Chris Buescher

Chris Buescher coming down pit road with a flat tire after contact with Tyler Reddick while battling for the lead. (Photo: Kevin Ritchie | The Podium Finish)

DARLINGTON, S.C — Just one week ago at Kansas Speedway, Chris Buescher suffered a heartbreaking defeat, finishing second by .001 seconds, the closest in NASCAR Cup Series history.

For the second week in a row, Buescher saw a potential victory snatched away late.

Buescher and the No. 17 team brought race-winning speed once again in Sunday’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway, but this time, the loss was a bit different.

It all started on Lap 261 when a restart took place following a Kyle Larson spin. The front row featured Tyler Reddick, who won Stage 2 and led 174 laps total during the race and Brad Keselowski, who was searching for his first victory since 2021.

Reddick elected the preferred top lane which put Keselowski on the bottom, who got an equally good restart when the race went back green. This led to a five-lap, side-by-side battle for the lead between the two drivers and allowed Buescher to keep pace.

With only 30 laps to go coming out of Turn 4, Reddick and Keselowski made contact, which as a result put Reddick in the wall and slowed down both drivers momentum. This allowed Buescher to get a gigantic run coming onto the front straightaway and make a three-wide pass for the lead on the bottom.

The run allowed Buescher to clear both drivers and take the lead with 29 laps to go. Reddick also was able to get back clear of Keselowski and settle into second place.

Chris Buescher

Chris Buescher (17) and Tyler Reddick (45) after making contact while battling for the lead. (Photo: Kevin Ritchie | The Podium Finish)

As the laps winded down, Reddick, who had the dominant car, began running Buescher down and with 10 laps to go was in striking position.

Going into Turns 3 and 4, Reddick sent his car in deep and attempted a slide job on Buescher to take the lead back. The only problem was Reddick was nowhere near close to being clear.

Reddick drove up into Buescher, putting the No. 17 car into the wall and killing both drivers momentum, allowing Keselowski to get back in striking distance.

There was another problem also, an even bigger one. The contact caused both cars to cut a tire down, forcing them to pit and eliminating any chances of a decent finish.

This gifted Keselowski the win, breaking a 110-race winless streak and was the first for him as a team owner. As a result, Buescher finished in 30th and Reddick came home in the 32nd position.

“I’m stoked for Brad and the 6 bunch and RFK to get a win here,” Buescher said. “That’s huge, but, right now, selfishly I’m mad for my team and our group.”

After the race on pit road, a very heated Buescher went over and confronted Reddick once getting out of their cars, but cooler heads prevailed and no punches were thrown.

“Just getting wiped out,” Buescher said post-race. “For me, we know it’s gonna be good, hard racing here, but we hit so hard we wheel-hopped into the fence. I don’t get it.”

Chris Buescher

Chris Buescher racing at Darlington Raceway during the Goodyear 400. (Photo: Kevin Ritchie | The Podium Finish)

“We had a great day there and we didn’t get any finish to show for it,” said Buescher.

The 30th-place finish only brought 15 points home for Buescher, who is still winless and in the middle of the playoff battle around the cutoff line.

Buescher was very critical of the slide job attempt, especially after racing clean all day.

“We had clean racing all day long and to get flat-out fenced like that there’s no excuse,” Buescher said. “It’s a poor decision and an immature move. I just don’t get it.”

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