Hot off of a XFINITY Series Championship in 2015, Chris Buescher shocked the NASCAR world by making the Chase and winning a race in 2016. He will look to do the same in 2017 with his new team, JTG Daugherty Racing.
Car No.: 34
Crew Chief: Bob Osborne
Team: Front Row Motorsports
Points Finish: 16th
2016 Quick Summary: For the first 20 races of the 2016 season, Buescher had a forgettable rookie season. He had only captured three top-20’s, and he had just as many finishes 30th or worse as he did 29th or better. His most memorable moment at that point was his wild ride at Talladega, where he had one of the most violent crashes of the season.
Then came race No. 21, a Monday race at Pocono Raceway.
It was in the middle of a cycle of green-flag pit stops and Buescher found himself leading for the first time in NASCAR’s top series. Then a caution would come out, which changed the 24-year-old’s season entirely. A dense fog had forced NASCAR to stop the race. The fog wouldn’t lighten up, and since the race was passed halfway, the race would be called, handing the rookie his first win.
In the races that would follow, he and his team would capture a top-five in Bristol and a top-20 in his first start at Darlington, which would be enough to get him into the top-30 in points and into the Chase.
However, after subpar performances in the first round, Buescher would receive an early elimination from NASCAR’s version of the playoffs. The rest of the year would feature more finishes outside the top-15, and he’d finish the season 16th in the final point standings.
2016 Highlight(s): Buescher’s first win at Pocono will serve as a day that he won’t soon forget. Another highlight would be he and Front Row Motorsports’ impressive drive to get in the top-30, allowing both to make their first Chase.
2016 Lowlight(s): What goes up, must come down. After their impressive drive to make the Chase, Buescher, and FRM’s momentum stalled out in the Chase, resulting in an early elimination.
2017 Outlook: In an interesting twist of fate, Buescher moves to JTG Daugherty Racing in 2017, to drive the No. 37 Chevrolet.
For the most part, JTG had a forgettable 2016 but did see improvement towards the end of the year, as they scored four top-10’s in the final ten races with driver A.J. Allmendinger. If they can continue to make those improvements while expanding to a two-car team, and if Buescher can adapt well to his new team, the two may be able to put together a Chase run.
Mitchell Breuer is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist
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