Part two of our Random Race Recap for Michigan International Speedway doubleheader features Chris Buescher. While the lineup inversion had the No. 17 driver sitting on the pole, the team opted to go to a backup car. This forced Buescher to drop to the rear prior to the green flag.
Buescher worked through traffic to P16 by lap 6, but he settled into P18 on lap 10, and the field stretched to single file.
Fellow Ford driver, Clint Bowyer, took off with a dominating lead. On lap 11, Buescher informed his crew chief, Luke Lambert, that his car would need to be freed up on the first pit stop.
As the opening stage passed the halfway point, Buescher told his crew he was, “Really tight running the bottom.” He held steady in P20 as he fought lapped traffic in the closing laps but finished the stage P22.
After discussing a game plan with Lambert, Buescher came to his crew for a wide array of adjustments.
Buescher restarted P19 for the second segment. And, echoing Saturday’s restarts, drivers took their cars three- and four-wide, jockeying for position.
The Roush Fenway Racing driver was quiet on the radio throughout the stage. He fluctuated throughout the high 20s as the field stretched to a 200mph freight train, with Saturday’s winner, Kevin Harvick, dominating this stage.
As the stage concluded with Buescher in P24, he told Lambert his car was still tight in traffic and he could “stand to be freer.”
He came to his pit box for adjustments and lined up to restart the final stage P26 in what had been an abnormally quick and quiet race.
While the green flag brought another wild restart, this one carried over a few extra laps. With it, came the first caution for an incident as Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney got into each other in turn two.
Buescher stayed out under the caution to restart P18. With the checkered flag nearing, the intensity ramped up.
Soon after, Bowyer had to pit with a tire rub, and shortly after, Christopher Bell brought out the caution flag as he went spinning.
Buescher’s crew chief brought him to pit road from P13 for fresh tires and fuel. He restarted his Fastenal machine from the 24th position and immediately was shuffled back two more positions.
Within 12 laps of the restart, Buescher broke past the top 20. His spotter, Mike Herman, encouraged his driver, “Clean air. Let’s go make lap times. P19.”
In an opportunity to learn some things, Buescher took the closing laps to attempt to draft with a nearby car to see if it would improve his lap times.
With 20 laps remaining, the yellow flew for debris. Lambert told Buescher to save fuel under yellow. They were opting to stay out and gain as much track position as they could.
Sitting P17 with 15 laps remaining, the green flag waved. It would only be a matter of time to see if the old adage, “Cautions breed cautions,” would ring true.
However, the final laps went green and Buescher came home P20, matching his efforts from Saturday.
Check back next week for Random Race Recap from the Daytona Road Course. It’s sure to be an exciting weekend!