March 4, 2013

Plano’s James Buescher returns to TMS as a NASCAR champion

The Plano resident grew up racing at TMS’ dirt and quarter-mile tracks.

James Buescher got to take his victory lap at Texas Motor Speedway on Monday.

He was back in town for Media Day at the track, introduced again to reporters — but this time as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion.

Maybe some day, it’ll be as NASCAR Nationwide Series champion.

Or NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.

Maybe not.

But that would be OK. For now, the 22-year-old Plano resident — who grew up racing at TMS’ dirt track and quarter-mile asphalt surfaces — is a champion truck racer.

And that’s fun.

He doesn’t have to be “climbing the ladder,” race-speak for moving your way up series after series.

“What’s the rush?” he said. “I’m only 22. I want to race because I want to race, and I want to have fun doing it. If I want to move up and hurry up and climb the ladder to the Cup series and not succeed, that’s no fun. That’s not what I want to do.

“I don’t want to move up because somebody else wants me to or because I want to say I’m a Nationwide driver or a Cup driver. I want to enjoy what I’m doing. Otherwise, I wouldn’t travel every week of the year and do everything that comes along with racing. The racing is the fun part, and the racing in the truck series is a lot of fun. It’s a blast.”

No one can argue it was a blast for Buescher last year.

He won four races — the first of his career — and took the points lead with three races to go before hanging on to win the title by six points.

The rush left him wanting more, not necessarily looking up.

“It’s more fun to be winning,” he said. “I do want to move up because I want the challenge. But you have to have everything align itself correctly. Right now, everything aligned for me to stay in the Truck series and maybe move up to the Nationwide next year.”

Another year in the Truck series is a smart move, said Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who won the Nationwide Series in 2011, opted to run the series again in 2012 and won the championship again.

“He didn’t get his first win in the Nationwide or trucks until last year, and it’s difficult to keep putting those together,” Stenhouse said. “I think it’s a good decision for him. He’s only 22. He’s got a little while to go. I learned a lot in my second year in Nationwide. It definitely made me more ready for Cup than if I came into it last year. That would have been really difficult.”

Buescher understands the message about his second year. If he continues to be a strong driver, he will at least get a chance to practice winning.

“The more experience you can have winning, the better shot you have at winning when you move up is the way I look at it,” he said. “If you’re accustomed to winning races in the series you’re in, when you move up, it’s going to happen faster because it’s happened so much. So hopefully it’s going to happen for me.”

Buescher won’t be back in Texas for a while. The truck series doesn’t visit TMS until June.

Maybe then he can take a true victory lap in front of the hometown fans.

“I’d love to see James keep climbing that ladder and be the guy that we can all point to and say, ‘Yeah, he started out there at Texas Motor Speedway behind the big track,’ ” TMS president Eddie Gossage said. “I need to get to know him better. Because when he becomes a star — a big star — one day, I want to know that he remembers us.”

Buescher will remember. No matter where he is on the ladder.

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