NASCAR & Auto Racing

Xfinity leader Buescher on top of his game

Chris Buescher waves the checkered flag as he drives by the stands and celebrates after he won the NASCAR Xfinity series auto race, Saturday, May 30, 2015, at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del.
Chris Buescher waves the checkered flag as he drives by the stands and celebrates after he won the NASCAR Xfinity series auto race, Saturday, May 30, 2015, at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. AP

The view from the top is one Chris Buescher enjoys.

That may be in large part because of how far he has come from the bottom.

The Prosper native enters Saturday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Chicagoland Speedway as the series points leader, with two wins, seven top-five and nine top-10 finishes in 13 races this season.

That’s a far cry from a year ago at this time when he was a respectable seventh in the standings as a rookie. But almost from the start of the season, his ability to contend for the championship was hampered by his failure to qualify for the season opener at Daytona Beach, Fla.

Buescher and his No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing team had no such problems this season, starting 10th and finishing second at Daytona.

“Knowing the feeling last year, it was good to get that one off our back,” said Buescher, the cousin of 2012 Camping World Truck Series champion James Buescher of Plano. “My team has really worked hard, and we did not want to try to dig ourselves out of another hole this year.

“As a racer, I am not a very good race fan when I know I should have been able to be in that race. That hurt.”

There have been no such issues this season.

While Roush’s Sprint Cup teams have struggled this season, its Xfinity Series programs have been among the class of the field virtually every week. Teammate Ryan Reed won the season opener at Daytona and is ninth in points. Darrell Wallace Jr. is fifth and Elliott Sadler sixth.

Even more impressive: Reed’s win at Daytona and Buescher’s win at Dover, Del., came in companion races that attracted several Cup series stars.

A fourth-place finish in last weekend’s race at Michigan helped Buescher open a 25-point lead over his nearest competitor, Ty Dillon.

“This is how we need to show up to the races each week,” Buescher said after the race. “It was awesome, and my team did a heck of a job.

“It was a fun race, it really was. We are in a good place in the points, and we will go on to Chicagoland and try to do a little bit better.”

Buescher’s season has been busier than originally planned.

Shortly into the 2015 season, a Ford team in the Cup series, Front Row Motorsports, found itself searching for a replacement for driver David Ragan, who left for Joe Gibbs Racing and then Michael Waltrip Racing in substitute roles.

Roush allowed Buescher to run five races in the No. 34 Ford, giving Buescher some Cup experience while not overdoing it so as to hamper his efforts at winning the Xfinity championship. His best finish was 20th in Fontana, Calif.

Buescher credits the Cup experience to assisting in his development as a driver this season.

“It has been a smooth start to the beginning of the year, and we’ve had a lot of races in the top five and we’ve been very competitive,” he said.

“We knew that as long as you run that top-five area you will get some wins. We’re just trying to do what we can each and every week to win races. If we do that, everything else comes with it.”

Including possibly his first NASCAR championship.

On the grid

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: No race this week.

Next race: Toyota/Save Mart 350, 2 p.m., June 28, Sonoma, Calif.

This week’s races

▪ American Ethanol 200, Camping World Truck Series, Iowa Speedway, 7:30 p.m. Friday, FS1.

▪ Atticat 300, Xfinity Series, Chicagoland Speedway, 8:30 p.m. Saturday, FS1.

▪ Thunder Valley Nationals, NHRA, Bristol, Tenn., (qualifying, taped, 4 p.m. Saturday, ESPN2; Eliminations, noon, Sunday, ESPN2)

▪ Austrian Grand Prix, Formula One, 7 a.m. Sunday, NBC Sports Network.

Who’s Hot/ Who’s Not

HOT

Kurt Busch: Two wins and 11th in points — and he missed three races. Impressive.

Martin Truex Jr.: Not since Richard Petty in 1969 has a driver earned 14 top-10 finishes in the first 15 races.

Kyle Busch: His return to the Xfinity Series was a winning one.

Chris Buescher: Building a sizable points lead that could land him the Xfinity Series championship.

NOT

NASCAR: The race isn’t to halfway. Stop making decisions as if it is.

Greg Biffle: Two years since his last win, and it doesn’t look any better on the horizon.

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