BRISTOL, Tenn. – In his newest song country music singer Tim McGraw advises, “always be humble and kind.”
Chris Buescher is considered one of the nicest guys in the NASCAR garage and his status as a rookie at the sport’s highest level is keeping him grounded. Buescher, 23, remembers the years spent watching some of the drivers he’s recently raced against compete at his home track, Texas Motor Speedway.
‘Neat’ is how he describes now being one of those 40 drivers in the field.
He’s doing his best to soak it all in and learn at the same time. But seven races into the season, things have not gone as well as Buescher was hoping they would with Front Row Motorsports. He’s 36th in points entering the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway with his best finish being a 26th at Las Vegas.
“I fully expect to learn lessons while I’m here,” Buescher told a small group of reporters on Friday afternoon. “I didn’t expect to come off the truck and be P5 on the board in our first practice. There is a lot of change here, and this is the best guys in the world doing what we do.”
After competing for and winning the XFINITY Series championship with Roush Fenway Racing last season, Buescher is now in an entirely different mindset. That includes the acceptance that he’s not racing for wins as he was a year ago and he’s not one of the best cars in the field.
Buescher has asked his team to be patient with him as he learns. Most of the No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops team is also new. Only a handful remained from those Buescher briefly worked with last season, and everyone is still getting used to each other.
However, crew chief Bob Osborne is a NASCAR veteran and spent many years at Roush Fenway, who Front Row has a technical alliance with this year. Buescher and teammate Landon Cassill said coming into the season they hope to compare with the three Roush cars.
“It’s a lot of new pieces of the puzzle. New team for myself; new crew chief; new organization,” Buescher said. “A lot of moving parts and it’s starting to come together to the point where we can operate a little bit quicker. You’re starting to see everyday activities, like getting ready for practice, where we’re ready earlier and earlier and more prepared. It’s going really well.”
Buescher isn’t taking this year lightly. Granted, it might be his first full season and Front Row Motorsports might not be one of the highest funded teams in the series, but that doesn’t mean there’s any less pressure.
“We’re here to perform; we’re in a Rookie of the Year battle with guys I’ve been racing my whole life, so we have to step it up and perform,” Buescher said. “We’re not where we want to be right off the truck this year, but we’re making progress in the right direction, and we’re going to get better. It’s going to take some time; I figured we’d have some growing pains, and I have a lot of learning to do as well.”
But as Buescher continues to adapt, he’s had to remind himself not to lose his confidence. Things might be tough right now, except every step forward in NASCAR means there’s something new to digest.
“In every series you run you work your way up to try and be at the top and when you get to the top you move onto the next (series), and you go right back down to the bottom and start over,” Buescher explained. “So, we’re just at that starting over phase. It’s still early in the season.”
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