Friday, September 24, 2021

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Chris Buescher scores first career victory in Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200

After making his pit stop a little earlier than his competitors, Chris Busecher was able to stretch the fuel and hit all his marks around the 13-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car road course to score his first career Nationwide Series victory in his 30th career start.

“Its incredible, just incredible and cold – these guys got me good,” Buescher said. “It’s such an honor to be here with Nationwide’s Children Hospital on board this car; it’s great to get Luke here to victory lane. It was just an amazing, amazing trip.”

After hitting pit road, Buescher let the pit cycle go through, taking over the lead with 24 laps to go. The caution would fly with 20 laps to go, setting up a late race restart.

“It was nerve-wracking. I wasn’t sure if I was happy or disappointed,” Buescher said of the caution. “I knew we had a little more fuel, but it bunched us all up there. This Ford Mustang was fast. My fuel light came on near the end, but I wasn’t telling (crew chief) Scott (Graves).”

Buescher then held off Regan Smith and Brian Scott on the restart before stretching the lead out to two seconds and cruising to victory. Crew chief Graves commented post-race that he was ready to throw up over the course of the last 20 laps.

“This is amazing. That is so cool to do that,” Graves said. “We’ve been saying all year that we’re here to win and to do that, you need to take risks. You need to get out front and make things happen – and we did that today.”

Buescher hasn’t had the perfect rookie season, posting some poor finishes throughout the season. However, over the second half of the season, Buescher hasn’t gotten stronger behind the wheel, posting some top-10 finishes. With the victory, Buescher becomes the third rookie to win this season as he joins Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon.

Regan Smith would finish second after running a solid, clean race, for his 18th top-10 finish of the 2014 season.

“We broke the exhaust at some point. It started popping pretty bad at some point,” he said. “As the race went on, the popping got worse and it finally broke off that we didn’t have any power off of the corners. Chris drove a great race and congratulations to him. Great job by these guys on their effort today.”

Brian Scott led a race-high 39 laps before finishing third despite some early race contact with Alex Tagliani that sent him off-course.

“I got to say thank Nationwide Children’s hospital for letting us having a patient champion,” Scott commented. “The deal with Tagliani – he kind of out-braked me, dive bombed me and I said alright. Then he drove us out into the grass and changed our strategy in having to call an audible near the end of the race. I think we could’ve won the race if it had not been for that.”

Chase Elliott finished fourth to keep the points lead, 10 points ahead of Smith, while Alex Tagliani rounded out the top-five.

“Sorry to Brian. I made a move to the inside and once I tapped him, he kept sliding to the outside,” Tagliani said. “Good day for the 22 car in gaining some points as once the 54 had problems, the risk vs reward was too high in making sure to bring the car home in one piece.”

Justin Marks finished sixth, followed by Elliott Sadler, Dylan Kwasniewski, Trevor Bayne and Dakoda Armstrong.

Richard Childress Racing teammates Ty Dillon and Brendan Gaughan looked fast early, but finished 19th and 20th respectively, after Dillon had power-steering issues while Gaughan had over-heating issues. Pole sitter Sam Hornish Jr. also looked strong, leading 12 laps before running second behind Scott, till he pulled behind the wall with mechanical issues underneath the hood.

Throughout the day, different drivers would get off course, some having more problems than others in getting stuck in the kitty litter or tire barrier. One of the most significant incidents was when Jeff Green’s throttle struck with 20 laps to go, resulting in heavy contact with the tire barrier. Green would get out of the car, able to walk away under his own power.

The Nationwide Series is back in action next Friday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

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