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Chris Buescher Narrowly Misses Kansas Victory

Chris Buescher

Chris Buescher during the NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway. (Photo: Patrick Vallely | The Podium Finish)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — For about 40 seconds, Chris Buescher thought he won Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway.

FOX called Buescher as the winner as it appeared he inched out Kyle Larson in a wild finish. The scoring pylon showed it. His team radioed to him and Buescher began celebrating down the backstretch as crew members jumped up and down on pit road.

But after a review, NASCAR reversed the call and handed the victory to Larson in what got declared the closest finish of all time — 0.001 seconds.

“It sucks to celebrate on the backstretch and then pull up to the front straightaway and be told no,” Buescher told the media after the race. “I don’t know how everything transpired honestly. Not right now. It sucks in a lot of ways. Second hurts, a whole lot worse than third. To be that close a couple of times this year now and not be able to get the win … the speed is great and we did a good job today and was a good recovery from the end of Stage 2 there, but we don’t have a trophy right now.”

As the laps ticked down, Denny Hamlin seemed destined for his second win in a row. He had Martin Truex Jr. closing on him, but he continued to manage the gap and save fuel.

But with seven to go, Kyle Busch spun and brought out the caution. Everyone elected to pit, but would it be for two or four tires?

Hamlin took two and came off first along with Buescher, who gained a spot on pit road and came out second. Larson gained two spots and came off third.

On the restart, Buescher and Larson split Hamlin entering Turn 1, setting up a two-car battle for the victory. Buescher took the white flag from the lead, but Larson still had something left for him. He got a run going down the backstretch and tried to pass Buescher high entering Turns 3 and 4. Buescher tried to run him high, but the two exited the corner side-by-side heading toward the start/finish line. They bumped twice before crossing nearly identically across the line — Buescher on the apron and Larson just above it.

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson squeaks by Chris Buescher in a 0.001-second victory in the NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway. (Photo: Patrick Vallely | The Podium Finish)

“We got a great push. Chase [Elliott] got us a good restart and we got into the corner,” Buescher explained. “We were able to run the bottom pretty well and we had some good momentum down the back but Kyle [Larson] certainly had a run. I was trying to cover what I could but we just left too much space around the top side. Unfortunately, that ended up getting us, and it hurts. It was a good race. We were banging doors all the way to the checkers.

Our Mustang was really good firing off and I certainly could have blocked more but at the end of the day I felt like I was pretty defensive on it. I felt like I was going to make a drag race out of it coming to the finish line. We got to banging doors there a little bit and lost some momentum and I was aggressive trying to cover it. I just needed a draft to keep speed up down the straightaway.

“I knew it was going to be close but certainly it hurts to be that close and miss out.”

After Buescher somberly pulled his No. 17 RFK Racing machine down pit road, all the team had was a grainy picture of the finish before meeting with the media. More imaging later came out and the team met with NASCAR for an explanation.

But in the moment, Buescher still didn’t understand how they lost.

Chris Buescher

Chris Buescher during the rain delay before the NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway. (Photo: Patrick Vallely | The Podium Finish)

“We were celebrating down the backstretch and looked at the pylon and we were P1 up there. Everything we had said we had gotten it,” Buescher said. “The only thing I have to go off of is a grainy photo right now and at this point it just sounds like I am complaining, and I guess I am because I don’t see it in that. I don’t understand how the timing system can read it out one way and not the other. We just gotta understand it better.”

No doubt — the defeat is bittersweet. But Buescher still climbed back from a pit road miscue after winning Stage 2. His got called for a penalty because of a crew member over the wall too soon and had to go to the tail of the field. Plus, part of his windshield tear off also got stuck on his roof.

Three quick cautions to start Stage 3 though allowed the Prosper, Texas, native to get back up front and regain the lead with 58 to go.

Still, more than anything, Buescher wants wins instead of dwelling on comebacks.

“Speed is good. Wins are better,” he said. “We need to be in that situation again and need to get some trophies and checkered flags and put ourselves in a much better spot.”


Nathan Solomon serves as the managing editor of The Podium Finish. He has been part of the team since 2021 and is accredited by the National Motorsports Press Association. Solomon is a senior in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University. Contact him at

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