By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – An all-night charge for Chris Buescher earned the Roush Fenway Racing driver a top-10 finish in the Coca-Cola 600.
It wasn’t until the halfway mark of the 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway that Buescher’s No. 17 Fifth Third Bank Ford Mustang entered the top-10. The Roush Fenway Racing driver qualified deep in the field, 27th. That forced Buescher to rally up through the field.
The long runs in each Stage aided Buescher. The Prosper, TX native found his stride as the green flag runs reached over 50 laps. Only one non-Stage break caution throughout the night allowed Buescher to make moves on the seemingly one-groove racetrack.
In the closing laps, the Ford Performance driver battled with Tyler Reddick for eighth. Buescher loosened Reddick’s No. 8 Alsco Uniforms Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE off turn four. The Richard Childress Racing driver attempted to press Buescher to regain position before falling back.
“That was a heck of an effort by our team and Roush Fenway to get our Fifth Third Bank Ford Mustang from a 27th-place starting spot to eighth,” explained Buescher. “We knew why we were there when it happened, but to have that drive forward and get up to the top 10 and ride around there all night and be able to make up spots on long runs.
“I’m proud of that. It’s a good night. It’s a long race. We executed really well on pit road. Everybody did a really nice job, so I’m proud of that.”
Buescher’s seventh-place finish is his fourth top-10 this season and the 24th in his NASCAR Cup Series career. It also made him the best of the Ford Performance drivers. The last time Roush Fenway Racing had the best finishing Ford at a non-Superspeedway event was the 2018 Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, 111 races ago.
“We’re absolutely on our best season,” admitted Buescher. “This will be our best season, no doubt no matter what happens from here, but it’s only optimism from here on out. I think we’ve found a lot of baselines that have really helped us start better. Our execution has been really good.
“Everybody has just really put their heads down through the off-season and found speed in these race cars and it’s showing. On top of that, we were right around the 6 all day, too. We were both competitive today in the race. I know our qualifying effort wasn’t stellar, but our race effort was strong.”
Despite the top-10 finish, Buescher slipped from 13th to 14th in the points standings. He holds the cutoff with a 55-point cushion over fellow Ford Performance driver Matt DiBenedetto. Buescher is 263-points behind leader Denny Hamlin.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by Chris Owens / Harold Hinson Photography