Chris Buescher knows he’s the Cinderella story of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
A rookie had not qualified for the Chase since 2006, and Buescher and Chase Elliott give this year’s 16-team field two rookies to watch. But Buescher had the more improbable run than Elliott.
Buescher, after all, drives for the lesser known Front Row Motorsports. Elliott, the son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, drives for the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports team. And Buescher, a native of the North Texas town of Prosper, pulled off the upset of the season by winning a rain-shortened Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono on Aug. 1, then managed to become eligible by driving his way into the top 30 in the points standings to solidify his spot in the Chase.
1 Cup win by Chris Buescher, the reigning Xfinity Series champion
It’s quite a feat for a guy who began his racing career running Legends cars at Texas Motor Speedway in north Fort Worth.
“It’s a big deal to have somebody in the Chase who is from our back yard,” TMS president Eddie Gossage said. “This is the most unlikely story of 2016. This would be like the LA Rams making the playoffs after how they started. But Chris obviously found the glass slipper once, why not a complete pair?”
The Star-Telegram caught up with Buescher earlier this week as the Chase gets underway Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway.
What does it mean to be in the Chase as a rookie? It’s a pretty big feat. We’re pretty stoked to be in the Chase at this point. To be able to get through Richmond [last week] and escape most major damage and be able to have a year like we’ve had has been great. We’re excited to be in the Chase.
Do you feel like you are a dangerous team because you don’t have expectations as others? There’s definitely that opportunity with the emphasis on winning races in the Chase, and being consistent as well. What we have to be careful of is not having a bad weekend. One out of three of these, if it doesn’t go well, it’s going to make it very tough to progress into that next round. You’ve got to be aggressive and get all that we can, but we’re also looking at reducing our risk.
What is the goal for your team now? It’s a unique situation. The goal at the beginning of the season was to be in the Chase, and now that we find ourselves here, we’re trying to regroup and figure out what our new goals are. But to be in the Chase as a rookie isn’t easy to do. It wasn’t easy to get to this point, so now we have to do the best we can.
Has the high worn off from winning at Pocono? Yeah. We kind of went into a little more defensive mode after that to just make the Chase. Now with the points resetting, we’ll go out there and race as hard as we can. It’s pretty exciting. At the same time, it kind of takes away excitement from Pocono when you reset everything. There’s not a whole lot left other than just a little bonus points.
How special would it be to be in the Chase when you come to TMS in November? Oh, that would be awesome. It is really far into the Chase, it’s going to be one of the more difficult things to do, but for the amount of family and friends I have come out to Texas weekend, it would be an awesome accomplishment if we could pull that off. But we know we have a lot of work to do to get to that point, so we’re just going to take it week to week and see how this first round goes.
Teenage Mutant Turtles 400
1:30 p.m. Sunday, NBCSN