June 6, 2013

Truck racing star finds perspective by lending hand in Moore, Okla.

Defending series champion James Buescher returns seeking an elusive victory in Texas but with a changed outook.

Not just everybody can be great in their desired profession. It takes a unique blend, not to mention, generally, a lucky bounce.

But to serve your fellow man, it takes only a heart full of grace and a motivation to love, Martin Luther King said.

One doesn’t need a college degree. One isn’t required to make subjects and verbs agree.

One doesn’t even have to be capable of commandeering a motorized vessel outfitted in NASCAR’s standards for trucks and capable of traveling upward of 190 mph on race ovals.

“It’s really humbling to see what everyone in Moore [Okla.] is going through,” said James Buescher, the defending champion of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series who spent Wednesday operating a Bobcat clearing debris from areas demolished by the tornado last month. “The pictures and what you see on TV doesn’t do it justice. I’m glad we were able to go up there.”

Buescher’s connection to Oklahoma is personal; his brother lives in Oklahoma City.

The driver of the No. 31 Ruud Chevrolet, who will start 18th in Friday night’s WinStar World Casino 400 at Texas Motor Speedway, said his visit to Moore put his struggles of 2013 in perspective.

Buescher, originally of Plano but now residing in Katy, is sixth in the points standings after some tough luck in the first six races, including a wreck in qualifying last week at Dover that required him to drive a backup truck for the race.

“Any time you see something like that it makes you feel blessed for what you do have,” Buescher said. “I want to help out any possible way I can. It’s about changing lives for the better up there.

“We were just in the hauler coming up with a plan to do more going forward.”

Today it’s back to work after clearing debris from homesites so rebuilding can commence.

Buescher, who grew up racing on TMS’ dirt track and quarter-mile asphalt surface, has won on every surface at the Fort Worth facility, except the big one.

Winning here would be special, he said, but he’s also discovering the life of a marked man, the defending champion all his competitors are coming after.

He said, however, he has found that the pressure is more profound in dealing with his own expectations set a season ago.

“I feel the pressure that we need to go out there and perform because we know we can,” said Buescher, who added that his crew struggled to find a balance during practice Thursday before settling for a qualifying run of 178 mph. “We’ve had a lot of bad luck.”

Said series points leader Matt Crafton: “They’re always fast. They’ve just had very bad luck. I know they’ll turn it around. I’m sure they’ll be there at the end.”

Buescher visited TMS for a promotional tour in March. The 23-year-old said then that his success in trucks had not changed his frame of mind about the timetable to climb the ladder of NASCAR.

He was young, he said then, and he didn’t want to rush.

His experiences in Moore this week haven’t change his mind about his race ambitions, he said, despite the reaffirmation in real terms that life is fragile and can change in an instant.

“At the same time I want to enjoy what I’m doing still,” Buescher said. “I want to know that I lived life the way I wanted to live it. I don’t want to move up too soon and not enjoy racing. If I don’t enjoy racing… the stress, amount of work and traveling to do what we do, I want to have fun doing it if I’m putting myself through it all.

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