Story By: SYDNEI FRYSON / ROUSH FENWAY RACING – HOMESTEAD, FL – Chris Buescher was the talk of the afternoon in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, advancing to the point early and leading 57 laps – including winning the opening stage – before going on to finish 19th in his No. 17 Fastenal Ford Mustang.
“It was a good run for our Fastenal group,” Buescher said. “I’m really proud of the effort through the offseason. I think we made a lot of improvements and a lot of really good things, but still working to close the deal. We’ll keep digging and take what we learned and get ready to go for Las Vegas and beyond.”
The stellar afternoon produced a number of highlights for the Texas native. Buescher’s 57 laps led marked a new career best for the driver, and was the most laps a Roush Fenway driver has paced in a single race since Greg Biffle led 58 laps in the 2014 spring Talladega event. The opening stage win also marked the second of Buescher’s career, following last year’s first stage in the fall Talladega race.
Buescher rolled off the grid in 12th and quickly broke into the top-10, running eighth by the time the competition caution waved at lap 25. After a quick pit stop for service, the team gained three positions on pit road to restart fifth. Twenty-one laps later, Buescher took the lead and held it all the way until the caution flag waved at lap 64.
With just 24 laps to the stage break, pit strategy came into play. The driver reported a tight-handling Ford on corner entry and the team elected to pit for service and more adjustments. With another fast pit stop effort, Buescher was able to maintain his lead and restarted first with eight to go. With the choose cone back in play, the Prosper, Texas native opted to restart on the bottom lane. Buescher held strong on the restart and led the field all the way to the green-white checkered flag to win stage one, earning a playoff point and 10 stage points.
After pitting for fresh tires and fuel, Buescher chose to restart in the bottom lane and once again led the field to green. Ten laps into the stage, the driver toggled between the first and second position, but regained the lead at lap 109. Green flag pit stops soon began to cycle through and the team visited pit road at lap 121 for an air pressure adjustment, tires and fuel.
Buescher settled into the second position after the cycle finished up. When a late stage caution flag waved at lap 156, the team pitted for an air pressure adjustment, more tires and fuel. Back on track in fifth for a one-lap shootout to end the stage, the driver finished stage two in sixth and earned five stage points.
The No. 17 team opted to stay out for track position during the stage break and restarted sixth with 100 laps to go in the race. During a chaotic restart, the driver got shuffled back through the pack, settling into 14th by lap 170. When the caution flag waved at lap 199, the team made another small adjustment and gave Buescher a fresh set of tires.
Buescher lined up 17th on the bottom lane for the final restart of the race and worked to maintain track position. Toggling as far back as 23rd, he was able to work his way back up to 19th before the checkered flag waved on 400 miles in south Florida.
Buescher and the No. 17 team head out west to Las Vegas Motor Speedway next weekend for 400 miles. Race coverage is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM Channel 90.