Buescher, RFK rolling with Charlotte’s punches

Chris Buescher is all too familiar with adversity at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but hopes this time around it’s out of the way before the Coca-Cola 600.

Buescher ran into trouble Saturday afternoon after in Cup Series practice when a left-rear tire issue sent him spinning in Turn 1. The No. 17 Ford Mustang Dark Horse hit the SAFER barrier on the driver’s side of the car, forcing RFK Racing into a long, challenging night to prepare for the race.

“We were fast in practice, and I was really happy,” Buescher. “We had talked about what we were going to do in practice if that was going to be four or five laps, come in and make an adjustment and go out and try again. On the good side of that, we were really close and happy to where I didn’t feel we needed to make an adjustment.


“On the bad side, we didn’t catch anything going wrong (with the tire). So, it’s going to put us way behind tomorrow.”

The team worked overnight — 17 hours with 30 team members according to the organization’s social media page — at the race shop (which is less than five miles from the racetrack) to prepare Buescher’s backup car. He will start 39th because he did not get to attempt a qualifying lap.

Buescher finished eighth in last year’s Coca-Cola 600 after leading 12 laps. It was a year after his memorable barrel roll on the frontstretch after he was collected in a crash that started with Daniel Suarez spinning off Turn 4. He was running inside the top 15 at the time of that crash.

In his last five Coca-Cola 600 starts, Buescher has three top-10 finishes. He wound up seventh fastest in practice Saturday.

“(Charlotte) doesn’t owe it to me, it’s not the term I’d use but certainly, a little bit of good fortune along the way would be nice,” Buescher said. “I just go back to that we’ve had very good speed here. We’ve been very good at this race and I love the (Coke) 600. I love the challenge of it.

“I love that we finally have a hot day at the racetrack; I don’t feel like we’ve had hardly any this year and I feel like our team does a good job when the summer stretch comes around.”

To rebound with a strong race day Sunday would also cap off what has been an equally frustrating stretch of races for Buescher and his team, who have been in contention for multiple wins with nothing to show for it. Buescher has led 75 laps in the last two races, losing in a photo finish at Kansas Speedway and falling from the race lead at Darlington Raceway after contact with Tyler Reddick with 10 laps go.

The motivation is strong within Buescher’s camp to make it all come together in one of the biggest races of the year.

“It’s just a shame because I know this week has been busy getting this race car ready,” Buescher said. “Then to come out here and be that fast and have this happen, ultimately, it’s going to light that fire to make us come back and get it done. Again, it doesn’t owe us anything, but we’ve talked about this race needing to go a little bit smoother somewhere along the way for us and (practice) was not it.

“That was the first thing that crossed my mind, rolling down the backstretch limping there. With that said, I know our team is going to try hard for this. We’re going to be very fast, I don’t have a doubt in my mind. So, we get to pass a lot of cars.”

Story originally appeared on Racer