When NASCAR officials decided the fog and misty weather were enough to end the Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway 22 laps short of the advertised distance, Front Row Motorsports driver Chris Buescher shockingly earned his first career Sprint Cup Series victory.
While it was a tremendous upset for the 2015 XFINITY Series champion to get the win with FRM, crew chief Bob Osborne stood alongside the 23-year-old rookie in Victory Lane, which he hadn’t visited as the man atop the pit box since March 2011.
Osborne, who now has 19 career Cup victories, got his first Cup win with someone other than Carl Edwards on Monday. He last celebrated in Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s Victory Lane more than five years ago when Edwards was racing for Roush Fenway Racing in the No. 99 Ford.
The veteran crew chief gambled by keeping his driver on the track as the field cycled through green flag stops. Buescher inherited the lead once all the leaders stopped and on Lap 133, his gamble paid off as the yellow flag waved for fog covering the track.
After 138 laps, NASCAR instructed cars to come to pit road and after more than an hour under the red flag, the race was called.
“To be honest with you, we had a top-15 car,” Osborne said. “It’s headed in the right direction from our first race here and for where we are with our program. With fate really going our way today and with calls going our way, which we haven’t had a lot of this year, it worked to put us in a position to win it.”
Osborne’s goal coming into the weekend was to better the No. 34 Ford’s performance from the last race at Pocono in early June, when the team finished 28th.
“Coming into the weekend, we wanted to improve on the first time we were here and have a better-handling racecar relative to the competition,” Osborne said. “We did accomplish that — we had a more competitive car than what we had the first race. I was happy to see that, and we’re going to continue to do that race after race for the rest of the season.”
Osborne and his young driver still have some work to do if they’re going to compete in NASCAR’s playoffs. With five races left until the first Chase race at Chicagoland Speedway, he is six points behind BK Racing’s David Ragan for 30th.
Osborne sat out as a crew chief in 2013 and 2014 due to an unspecified health issue. In 2015, he returned to the role as Trevor Bayne’s crew chief with Roush Fenway and scored two top 10s.
While he’ll now feel the pressure of making Buescher a top-30 driver in the standings, there must feel some relief in ending an 89-race winless streak.
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