Bold strategy call helps Buescher to a strong podium at Sonoma

Chris Buescher and RFK Racing made an unlikely strategy work to their advantage for a podium finish at Sonoma Raceway.

Buescher finished third in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 after winning the second stage and making one pit stop in the final stage. The stop came on lap 68 and the No. 17 Ford Mustang Dark Horse cycled back to the lead when others gave up their track position to pit deeper in.

Ultimately, it wasn’t the winning call, as Buescher couldn’t hold off Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson. He lost the top spot with nine laps to go as both Truex and Larson went by.

Things swung RFK’s way again on the final lap. Buescher was running fourth, managing his tires, when Truex ran out of fuel. Larson, McDowell, and Buescher passed the coasting Truex to make up Sunday’s top three finishers.


“It was a really good strategy on the day and an awesome finish,” Buescher said. “I wasn’t quite able to hold the lead there and that bums me out. I was trying. I’ve got to be better and ultimately figure out how to make that last a little bit longer, but our team did a really nice job. To start where we did and finish right here at the front with our Ford Mustang, I’m really proud of that. Just another close one at the end of the day.”

Sunday was Buescher’s first top-10 finish in over a month (Kansas Speedway). It was also the most laps he’s led in a single Sonoma race in his career.

“Ultimately, we started deep in the field, and it was going to be hard to make it work, but Scott (Graves, crew chief) and our group did a fantastic job,” Buescher said. “They played it well and got us up front. We got a stage win, a playoff point, but ultimately there at the end I wasn’t able to hold on. If that was just a little bit of tire difference late in the run or how hard I ran at the beginning, I’m not sure. It’s just a really solid day considering where we started. That’s a ton of positions gained on the day and really, really good.”

Story originally appeared on Racer