Why did we overlook Chris Buescher?
Since the full cast of 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookies were announced to include Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, Brian Scott and Jeffrey Earnhardt, all the attention was bestowed on Elliott and Blaney. Which would be the first to win? Would either one of them make the Chase for the Sprint Cup? If one of them makes the Chase, which one? Buescher, Scott and Earnhardt, for a lack of a better description, got lost in the shadows of the two, so-called super-rookies, and by super-rookies, I’m talking Elliott and Blaney.
Not to slight Elliott and Blaney at all; they’ve had spectacular rookie seasons. Also, Elliott seems to be poised to get into the Chase on points, and Blaney’s in a position where he may also get in.
But who saw Buescher coming. Specifically, who saw his win at Pocono Raceway on Monday coming? If there hadn’t have been so much fog in Long Pond, Pa., on Monday, maybe we would’ve seen Buescher waving like, “Hey, remember me?”
Of course, Buscher’s not in the Chase — not yet. But he’s close. Right now, he’s 31st in points, but only six points behind 30th-place David Ragan, who just happens to be a former Front Row Motorsports driver and the last FRM driver to take that team to victory lane. Buescher had five more races to crack the top-30 and be there come the checkered flag at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway in September. I’m not psychic and Miss Cleo passed away recently, so I can’t call her. But my gut’s telling me to count Buescher in.
For fans discounting Buescher’s win because of Monday’s race being fog/rain/pick weather condition of your choice-shortened, give it up. Runner-up Brad Keselowski based strategy on impending weather earlier in the race and finished second. Regan Smith was on the same pit strategy as Buescher and finished third. If the weather conditions had worked out more in Keselowski’s favor would folks be poo-pooing on a win by him? Well, Keselowski haters probably would, but I’m guessing other fans wouldn’t because we’re used to seeing Keselowski win races.
And speaking of Team Penske drivers, to refresh your memory, Joey Logano’s first-Career Cup win was a rain-shortened affair. How’s he doing these days?
The more I think about it, the more I get perplexed trying to figure out why we kind of forsook Buescher for Elliott and Blaney. And, again, I’m not downplaying the talent of Elliott and Blaney, at all.
Elliott is a past Xfinity Series champion, but so is Buescher. Blaney won races at the Xfinity level, but so did Buescher. I get the Elliott love, because he is, after all, driving one of the most-storied cars in NASCAR history. He is the heir to the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports empire, so-to-speak.
Meanwhile, Buescher’s ride is with the small, underfunded Front Row Motorsports. But putting Buescher in the car came with a Roush Fenway Racing technical alliance. Sure, RFR has struggled in recent years, but it’s still Roush Fenway. I guess it could be said that Front Row Motorsports is to Roush Fenway Racing what Furniture Row Racing is to Joe Gibbs Racing.
Meanwhile, Blaney’s team, Wood Brothers Racing, is in its first full-time season of the decade. Besides, even prior to the Pocono race, Buescher’s Front Row Motorsports team had been to victory lane since Wood Brothers Racing.
Now I’m wondering why I ever overlooked Chris Buescher, and I’m sure others are, too.