135_Anthem Annual 2016 Feb Edition.p1

2016 Anthem Annual Feb Web PDF

A Quiet FIERCENESS Chris Buescher Ready to Tackle His Latest Challenge PHOTOS GETTY IMAGES Chris Buescher hoisted the trophy after winning the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series championship. On November 21, 2015, NASCAR crowned a new XFINITY Series champion — Chris Buescher. Even though it was only Buescher’s second full-time season in the XFINITY Series, it was undoubtedly his best. Compared to 2014, he doubled his victories, more than doubled his top-fi ve totals, and ended the year with a career-high 20 top 10s. It was Buescher’s knack for consistently fi nishing in the top 10 that had him pegged early on as a major contender for the championship. That begs the question: how did this fi erce, young driver go largely unnoticed in 2015? “I’ve been under the radar all my life, not opposed to it, so I’ve been able to have good success coming up through various series and been able to accomplish a lot to get to this point,” Buescher said. “It’s a little bit more of a quiet way to get there, but you know, we’re here. We’ve made it this far. We’ve just got to go race. That’s what we’ve been tryin g to do all my life, and this is the scenario I’ve been working towards for many years.” Buescher fi rst landed on the radar at Iowa Speedway, where he claimed his fi rst victory of the year in the 3M 250. “This Roush Performance Ford Mustang was amazing,” Buescher said. “These guys did so good. We knew we were fast this weekend. We had a good race car the whole time.” His second and fi nal victory of the season came three weeks later at Dover International Speedway. Despite only winning two races, Buescher garnered enough attention and points to be considered a serious challenger for the championship. Buescher, who openly admitted to disliking points racing, rode into the fi nal race of the year at Homestead-Miami Speedway with an 18-point lead over defending series champion Chase Elliott. “I am not a points racer,” Buescher said. “I don’t like it. It’s not the most fun way to run the last 10 races of the season, but it is important.” It was due to points racing that Buescher knew exactly where he needed to fi nish in order to win the championship. As long as he fi nished 14th or better, the title was his. Down a lap with only 26 laps remaining, Buescher knew he needed to take a risk to get back on the lead lap — and that is what he did. Scott Graves, Buescher’s crew chief, called him to pit road during a caution, putting Buescher in 12th place and dangerously close to losing the title. But, Kyle Busch’s wreck one lap after the restart was Buescher’s saving grace. The result put Buescher back on the lead lap and moved him up one spot, to 11th. “It was nerve-wracking,” Graves said. “I knew when we were a lap down and the other contenders weren’t, that’s when we were most vulnerable. Once we ended up being on the same lap, that helped out quite a bit.” Luckily, Buescher was able to stay in 11th place all the way to the start/fi nish line. “It is every bit as stressful as I thought it would be,” Buescher said. “It’s always diffi cult. There’s a tremendous depth of talent in this series and through all of the NASCAR series. It makes it that much more special, knowing that we beat some of the best guys coming up through this sport right now. To be able to pull it off at the end is a very special, very humbling experience. It’s not easy. This is a very diffi cult thing to get.” So, what is next for the NASCAR XFINITY Series champion? While Buescher was not opposed to continuing his run in the XFINITY Series and defending his championship in 2016, team owner Jack Roush has other plans for him. Roush stated on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that it would only be a matter of time before Buescher, who ran six races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, was racing in the series full-time. “I stop short of saying it’s 2016, but there is a consideration, discussion going on about the prospect of getting him in a car,” Roush said. “If not one of my cars, one of the other Ford cars that would be competitive and competing in 2016. He may very well be in one of my Sprint Cup Series cars.” ANTHEM MOTORSPORTS ANNUAL 135


2016 Anthem Annual Feb Web PDF
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