Buescher to make 200th Cup start at COTA

Competing in his sixth full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series, Chris Buescher is set to reach a milestone start. By competing in this weekend’s inaugural EchoPark Texas Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas, the driver of the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang will make his 200th career start in NASCAR’s premier series.

A native of Prosper, Texas, Buescher made his Cup Series debut at Auto Club Speedway in March 2015. By then, he was a full-time Xfinity Series competitor for Roush Fenway Racing. Driving the No. 34 Ford Fusion for Front Row Motorsports as a substitute competitor in place of Brett Moffitt, Buescher finished 20th in his Cup debut. He ended up competing in five additional Cup races with FRM at Martinsville Speedway in March, Texas Motor Speedway in April, Bristol Motor Speedway in April, Talladega Superspeedway in May and Watkins Glen International in August.

After winning the 2015 Xfinity Series championship, Buescher earned a full-time Cup ride in Front Row Motorsports’ No. 34 Ford Fusion for the 2016 season, which he entered as a rookie contender. His rookie Cup season, however, started off on a low note after being involved in a multi-car accident nearing the midway point of the 2016 Daytona 500.

Through the first 20 races of the 2016 Cup season, Buescher’s best result was 14th at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July and he was mired back in 31st in the regular-season standings. Everything changed, however, at Pocono Raceway in July, when he emerged with the lead on Lap 127 as part of an economy run while most of the leaders pitted under green. Buescher retained the lead when the caution flew shortly after and as the leaders were brought down to pit road with the race red-flagged due to weather. Following an extensive weather delay, NASCAR made the race official and handed Buescher his first Cup career victory in his 27th series start. With his first win in NASCAR’s premier series, Buescher became the first Rookie-of-the-Year candidate to claim victory in a season since Joey Logano made the last accomplishment in 2009 and he recorded the second career victory for Front Row Motorsports. Buescher, however, was not automatically guaranteed a spot in the Playoffs since he was outside of the top-30 cutline in the regular-season standings and needed to earn consistent results for the upcoming five races to move into the cutline prior to the Playoffs commencing.

Following his victory at Pocono, Buescher earned an impressive fifth-place result at Bristol Motor Speedway in August and generated enough decent results above the top 35 on the track through the remaining five regular-season events to move into the top-30 cutline in the standings and secure his spot for the 2016 Cup Playoffs, which also marked the first postseason appearance for Front Row Motorsports. Buescher’s Playoff run, however, came to an end after finishing 28th, 30th and 23rd through the Round of 16. Nonetheless, Buescher went on to finish in a career-best 16th place in the final standings.

In 2017, Buescher departed Front Row Motorsports and joined JTG-Daugherty Racing as driver of the No. 37 Chevrolet SS. Commencing the season in 35th place following a multi-car wreck in the second half of the Daytona 500, he went on to earn a total of four top-10 results and two season-best sixth-place results. Compared to his rookie Cup season, however, Buescher did not record a victory nor did he make the Playoffs as he concluded his sophomore Cup season in 25th place in the final standings.

Remaining at JTG-Daugherty Racing for the 2018 Cup season, Buescher commenced the season on a strong note by finishing in fifth place in the Daytona 500. He would earn another fifth-place result at Daytona in July, but conclude the season in 24th place in the final standings. By then, Buescher surpassed 100 Cup career starts.

Throughout the 2019 season, Buescher earned a season-best sixth-place result in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May and a total of four top-10 results before finishing in 20th place in the final standings.

For the 2020 Cup season, Buescher reunited with Roush Fenway Racing and replaced Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as driver of the No. 17 Ford Mustang. He kicked off the season by finishing in third place in the Daytona 500. Ultimately, he would earn a total of two top-five results and six top-10 results throughout the 26-race regular-season stretch. While he did not make the Playoffs, he earned three additional top-10 results during the final 10 races before finishing in 21st place in the final standings. The eight top-10 results he achieved throughout the 2020 season were his career best in a season.

Through the first 13 events of the 2021 Cup season, Buescher has achieved three top-10 results, a season-best result of seventh place at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March, a career-best average result of 15.9 and a career-high 71 laps led. He is currently ranked in 14th place in the regular-season standings.

Through 199 previous Cup starts, Buescher has achieved one career win, six top-five results, 23 top-10 results, 135 laps led and an overall average result of 21.0.

Buescher is slated to make his 200th Cup career start at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, May 23, at 2:30 p.m. ET on FS1.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com


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