One of the bright young stars in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is 24-year-old Chris Buescher. Presently, the Prosper, TX native is in the midst of his second full-time season in the premier division.
No doubt, one of Buescher’s top milestones is the 2015 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship. Nevertheless, this young man is as smooth and thoughtful as he is on the track as he is with sharing his insights.
Meanwhile, Buescher has adjusted to his new surrounding sat JTG Daugherty Racing. For this reason, it’d be prudent to keep your eyes on the No. 37 team led by crew chief Trent Owens during the second half of this season.
Furthermore, Buescher is coming off a solid top-10 finish in last Sunday’s Brickyard 400. All things considered, progress is paramount to long term success, something attainable for this hardy organization.
Recently during the New Hampshire Motor Speedway race weekend, I spoke with Buescher about his season, working with teammate AJ Allmendinger, and life as a cat owner. Incidentally, it seems like the Texan has a great sense of humor much like his Californian counterpart.
In any case, get to know all about our latest interviewee as we get “In the Driver’s Seat with Chris Buescher!”
Rob Tiongson : It’s your first season with the JTG Daugherty Racing as they’ve expanded to a two-car effort this year. With half of 2017 in the books, how would you evaluate your season to date and what are some things you’re looking to working on during this summer stretch?
Chris Buescher: I’d say it’s started off pretty good, all things considered with as late of a start as we got on the season, putting everybody together and in place. It was a tough start just trying to get cars ready for the beginning of the season. That West Coast Swing was very difficult. But we got to the point now where it’s mellowed out a little bit and everybody can take a breather.
What I’m excited about as we look at the second half of the season is that after Loudon, we’ve been to all the racetracks (once) that we’re going to for this season for a second time. We’ll be able to have notes from the beginning of the year to apply towards the second half of the year and to be able to go back to these tracks and try and perform a little bit better than the first time.
I think that’s always the hardest thing when you start from scratch with new people, new relationships, and a new team and all. It’s about building up a notebook to where everybody understands each other. Once you get that, then you can start working on details and the little stuff that makes speed every weekend.
RT : Speaking of new things, you’ve been working with a new teammate in AJ Allmendinger who recently shared his thoughts with me about working with you…
CB : Oh, oh! (chuckles)
RT : (laughs) He praised the collaboration effort between the teams and how closely you guys are performing on the track and constantly working together each week. What are some things that AJ has helped you with in terms of excelling in the Cup car this season?
CB : It’s been really fun working with AJ this season. I’ve had a good time. I’ve had a good relationship with him before this year. We’ve got everything worked out, became teammates, and we work together well.
He pretty much hit the nail on the head. Our two teams have been able to really communicate very well together. There’s no information that’s trying to be held back so that we can both make sure that we’re advancing as quickly as possible and getting better finishes every week. It’s been good.
I’ve enjoyed having him for road racing. (chuckles) Sonoma was a place where I really struggled at last year. I was very thankful to have AJ’s insights there. It’s just nice to be able to sit down and go through our data and look at driver traces and what we each other does differently.
We have two very different driving styles but I don’t think we should change the racecars drastically differently for that. It’s just a matter of looking at the data and seeing what’s different.
RT : Of course, I noticed that you tweeted about having a cat and I was thinking, “Oh gosh, is AJ’s influence with Mr. Tickles influencing rubbing off on you?” Has it crossed your mind about becoming an eventual cat owner?
CB : Well, my fiancé and I are a cat owner now. And that is 110% to blame on AJ and Tara. (laughs) That did happen. We haven’t introduced him to Mr. Tickles. Ours has a more mellow name. It’s just Baby. (laughter)
Yes, it’s been interesting. I’ve never had a cat before and I don’t think we ever had a cat growing up. It’s kind of a unique situation. It was a single kitten that was found and it turned where my fiancé volunteered us and we ended up with a cat! (laughter) So yea, blame AJ and Tara!
RT : I will definitely let him know about that when I see him next time around. Going back on track, with the revamped stage and points format, has it lived up to expectations? On the other hand, are there some aspects of the format you’d improve?
CB : It’s definitely added some excitement to certain races. I think it’s created a way to have a good day and earn points and something happened at the end, with some of our crazy finishes, and not have a complete loss of a day. I think that is good. It rewards threefold. If you can run in the top-10 all day, your points stack up quickly.
It takes away from people that can improve their day throughout the course of the race. If you start with a 20th place car and you work on it and you get to 15th by halfway and you get to the top-10 by the end, you’re only getting points for that last stage finish. Really, you’ve made improvements throughout the race and you’ve really gotten it going in the right direction. You just don’t have anything to show other than the final (stage) finish.
It has created a larger gap in points I think this year than maybe we’ve expected to see. But overall, I think it’s served its purpose.
RT : When considering the positives of the new format, do you feel that it enhanced your chances of repeating your bid for a playoff spot similar to last year when you won at Pocono?
CB: I don’t know if it’s really changed that. As far as gambling and taking chances and trying to get a win on strategy, I don’t think it’s really changed how that will play out. At the end of the day, that’s something that’s just going to rely on that final lap of a race and putting yourself in the right position.
RT : Now I’m going to put you in the hot seat right now…
CB : Oh, oh! (chuckles)
RT : If you got to be an owner/driver and you could pick three drivers for your team, which drivers would you pick as a teammate because you liked them, wanted them on your team towards the end of your career, and still would race with, even if they were an annoyance on or off the track?
CB : From any series, anywhere? And any point in time?
RT : Exactly.
CB : You know, that’s a tough one. I’d say you’ve got to get Buddy Baker in there. I feel like we could get along well there. If you go towards the modern-day era and can get the job done and I haven’t really had any issues with those people, but it’s hard to deny Kyle Busch, I guess. Did AJ pick me? Cause I’m getting ready to pick AJ. If he didn’t…
RT : Oh yea, he did.
CB : Cause I’m getting ready to pick AJ! Me and AJ work well together. I’ve learned a lot from him this year. I think he’d be a good third player there.
RT : That’s fair. Very honest. You were his first choice!
CB : I was making sure that he chose me too. I was going to give him crap if not! (laughs)
RT : (laughter) Now that would’ve been interesting! What would you consider to be your “Welcome to NASCAR'” moment that made you feel like you’ve arrived as a driver in this sport?
CB : I don’t know about that moment exactly. The first time I had one of those was my first Cup race two years ago when I subbed in the 34 car at Fontana. We ran pretty good that day. I remember at some point in the race, on a restart, we drove by Jeff Gordon. For me, that was like, “That was Jeff Gordon we just drove by! That’s kinda cool.” (laughs)
Not to make him feel old or anything, but I remember watching him on the couch when I was a kid! I mean, all my old videos and highlights of NASCAR had Jeff Gordon in there. We were just able to pass him there. That was a moment that was cool for me when I started my first Cup race.
RT : That’s fine cause I grew up watching him too! He’s why I’m covering the sport. (both chuckle) 20 years ago, I was just watching him on the couch as well. Lastly, you’ve experienced your ups and downs in racing before finding your current home in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. What advice would you have for any young racers who are looking to make their way into this competitive sport?
CB : I’d say you start with your short tracks. You get the bug easily by going to a Saturday night short track race, watching the action unfold, seeing the effort that teams, drivers, and even the fans at that level (put forth) to be a participant each and every weekend at some of these places that have some of the best rivalries.
Bowman Grey Stadium always comes to mind. If you go there for any race, modifieds are the big show there. For me, the K&N race has been spectacular. They run some late models there. I ran Legends cars there and I absolutely loved it.
That’s a place that really gives you a sense of what racing is supposed to be like and gets you hooked on it to a point where you want to pursue it as you go on further in your life.
Author’s Notes : Special thanks to Chris Buescher and JTG Daugherty Racing for this amazing opportunity at New Hampshire! Furthermore, if you’d like to learn more about Chris and his No. 37 team, “Follow” them on Twitter, “Like” their Facebook page, and “Visit” their official website!