Chris Buescher stands as Roush Fenway Racing’s only driver in 2015 with a chance for a dream spin around his home track in the No. 60 Ford.
The Prosper native needs to finish fourth or better in the season’s final three races, regardless of what any other driver does, to win the Xfinity Series title.
What better place to begin the quest than at Texas Motor Speedway, a mere hour from Buescher’s North Texas hometown. The green flag drops at 2:30 p.m. Saturday for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge.
Buescher enters with a somewhat comfortable 27-point lead over defending champion Chase Elliott, and a 33-point advantage over third-place Regan Smith.
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We have three more races. For us, it is about getting top 10s, running hard and being as aggressive as we need to be to get solid runs in.
“We aren’t crunching numbers yet,” said Buescher, 23, who drove legends at TMS as a youngster. “The only number I know is that if we were 100-something points up right now, I would feel good. That isn’t the case though.
“We have three more races. For us, it is about getting top 10s, running hard and being as aggressive as we need to be to get solid runs in. Places like this have been really good for us. I look at that as a good chance to go out here and get a top five and possibly win.”
A victory would be his third of the season, which also includes 11 top fives and 20 top 10s.
Chris Buescher has two wins, 11 top fives and 20 top 10s this season on the Xfinity Series.
Buescher, a development driver for Roush, has made four starts at TMS, including a ninth-place finish — his only top 10 here — in April’s spring race.
Elliott followed up victory in his Xfinity debut at TMS in April 2014 with a fourth and an eighth in his past two races in Fort Worth.
“We’re going to have to put together three solid weeks,” Elliott said. “I think we need to win a race, at least, probably more than one to catch up. A long ways to go, but a short time to get there.”
A season championship in the lower-tier circuit would be something of a consolation prize for Roush Fenway, which was shut out of NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.
For the first time since the playoff format was introduced in 2004, Roush Fenway didn’t have a driver advance. That was also the year that RFR’s Kurt Busch seized the title.
No Roush driver — not Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse or former Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne, who is still seeking his first top five this season — could crack the top 16.
“The Cup side is not hidden from anybody,” Buescher said. “Everybody knows the situation there and everybody from our side of it is working extremely hard to fix it. We don’t like running that way, I promise you that. Everybody in the shop is just as competitive as the drivers.”
The Xfinity side of the business has been good for Roush, which stands third in the owner standings.
In addition to Buescher, the teams of Darrell Wallace Jr., who has had well-documented run-ins with Buescher, and Elliott Sadler are fifth and sixth, respectively. Ryan Reed is 10th.
For Buescher, it’s a matter of closing the door, something he has never had to do at this level. He won the ARCA title in 2012, but he admitted this is a different caliber. He has picked the brains of Jack Roush and Stenhouse, a two-time Xfinity champion, for advice.
Stenhouse has been both the hunter and the hunted.
“It is going to be tough through the last three,” Buescher said. “If we can get another win and two or three more top fives, then we will be in good shape. There’s not much else they can do.”