To take down Goliath, along came David. With a big assist from the elements, Chris Buescher has his first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory, achieving the milestone before wunderkinds Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, Ryan Blaney or Kyle Larson. Who would have thought a Front Row Motorsports driver would done so before a driver from HMS or even RCR or Ganassi Racing? I’ve said it before, sometimes the thrill comes not from the race itself, but who won the race.
With that accomplished, Chris Buescher has some work to do. You have to do more than just win to make the Chase, you’ve got be in the top 30 in points. Even with the win, the 23-year old from Prosper, Texas isn’t there yet. David Ragan sits six points ahead of the rookie, and Regan Smith- who registered a surprising third-place finish is a mere nine points behind Buescher. Truth be told, with his good fortune, Buescher also got his first career top ten and top five in addition to the win.
Here’s the facts: Chris Buescher is as likely to become the first race winner under the new Chase format to not make the the NASCAR playoff as he is to make it. While the standings just ahead of him possess the likes of such non-contenders as Casey Mears, Aric Almirola and Danica Patrick, Buescher is in the position because of good fortune, not because FRM found something in the shop to make him faster. Please know this is not a reflection on Buescher’s talent, it is more so that his team sits among NASCAR’s “have nots.”
The good news is there’s a road course coming up and some short track action. Skill becomes more of a factor than speed.
The bad news? Chris Buescher finished 25th at Bristol and 37th at Watkins Glen last year. In this season’s spring race at Thunder Valley, he took 21st, and the road course in Sonoma, he took 30th. Theres nothing there to inspire future confidence.
If you’re like this fan, and you like to root for the underdog, Chris Buescher is your man. One can always hope that perhaps this victory inspires a new level of confidence, and a new level of performance. It’s by no means impossible, it’s not like the teams ahead of them are burning it up. Buescher and Company will, however, need to raise their game: finish races, execute on pit road and marshal all resources available at the shop to make it happen.
It would be way cool if they did.