Buescher, Reddick involved in post-race altercation amid late-race battle at Darlington

For a second consecutive weekend, Chris Buescher was denied an opportunity to claim his first NASCAR Cup Series victory of the 2024 season amid an eventful run and intense battle for the win in the closing stages of the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, May 12. 

Compared to a week ago at Kansas Speedway, where he was edged by Kyle Larson in the closest-recorded finish in the Cup Series history at 0.001 seconds but managed a smile, Buescher this week was left fuming over Tyler Reddick, the latter of which foiled both opportunities of netting a victory at the track deemed “Too Tough to Tame.” 

The late drama for the victory that eventually led to tempers flaring started during a restart with 33 laps remaining when Reddick and Brad Keselowski, Buescher’s teammate and co-owner at Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing, spent the following three laps battling dead even for the lead. By then, Reddick, the pole winner had received stellar pit stops from his No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota pit crew that enabled him to beat Keselowski off of pit road from the first pit stall throughout the event’s caution and stage break periods, including the latest service with 37 laps remaining.

Then entering the frontstretch with 30 laps remaining, Keselowski, who made a bold charge underneath Reddick, made contact with the latter as Reddick scraped the outside wall while Keselowski nearly bounced off of Reddick. With both Reddick and Keselowski briefly falling off the pace and trying to regain their pace, Buescher capitalized on the contact and hard racing by diving his No. 17 Fifth Third Bank/Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing Ford Mustang Dark Horse beneath both through the frontstretch as he emerged with the lead entering the first two turns. 

After muscling ahead of Keselowski to claim the runner-up spot with 28 laps remaining, Reddick then spent the next 18 laps stalking and narrowing his deficit to Buescher. Then as he got to Buescher’s rear bumper while trailing him by a tenth of a second through the backstretch with 10 laps remaining, Reddick seized an opportunity by diving low beneath Buescher in a bid to reclaim the lead through Turns 3 and 4. Instead of the move sticking below the track through the turns as Reddick had hoped, Reddick’s Toyota slid up the track and pinned Buescher’s Ford against the outside wall through Turns 3 and 4.  

The contact resulted in both falling off the pace as both had their rear tires flattened and pitting their respective entries during the following lap, with their hopes of winning for the first time at Darlington Raceway also evaporated. During their late-race issues. Keselowski zipped by both and led the final eight laps en route to his first Cup victory in three years as he also received the honors of recording the first elusive victories of the season for both Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing and the Ford Mustang Dark Horse stock car. 

After taking the checkered flag in 30th place, two spots ahead of Reddick but two laps behind the leaders, before parking his entry on pit road, Buescher wasted no time stalking over to Reddick, where he gave the latter a shove and exchanged harsh words as Reddick still had his helmet on before Buescher walked back to his car. Amid the heated confrontation, Buescher maintained his composure as he summarized his disappointment and perspective over the late-race incident from his post-race interview. 

“We got wrecked,” Buescher, who led 21 of 293-scheduled laps, said on FS1. “That one’s clear as day. [I] Don’t need any cameras to tell us. [Me and Reddick] raced each other really clean over the years, try to be really respectful about it, and we get used up. I’m just really pissed off about it right now. We certainly had a chance to win another [race].” 

“Man, I wanted [the win] for our Fifth Third Bank group right here,” Buescher added. “[Reddick] knows he messed up. He said it, but it doesn’t change anything for us. I told him he’s got a win sticker on [his No. 45 door] and we’re still trying to find ours. We get used up like that and take away those opportunities stuff. That’s two weeks in a row we’ve had a shot to win races.” 

The 30th-place result marks Buescher’s second-worst finish through the first 12 events of the 2024 Cup Series schedule and it dropped him one spot in the regular-season standings to 12th place, where he trails points leader Kyle Larson by 155 points. Nonetheless, Buescher, who remains poised for his first victory of the season, is 15 points above the top-16 cutline, enabling him to make the 2024 Cup Series Playoffs as this year’s regular-season stretch reaches its halfway mark. 

Meanwhile, Reddick, who led a race-high 174 laps and won the second stage, was also left disappointed on pit road after ending up 32nd in the final running order despite spending the majority of the event running at the front and dominating in his No. 45 MoneyLion Toyota Camry XSE entry that sported a special throwback scheme honoring the late NASCAR icon Tim Richmond as Reddick also sported a throwback mustache to mirror Richmond. Amid the confrontation, Reddick was quick to accept responsibility for his role in the contact with Buescher.  

“I completely understand where [Buescher]’s coming from,” Reddick said. “He’s running the top [lane], running his own race, running his own line, keeping me at bay. I made a really aggressive move and was hoping I was gonna clear him. When I realized I wasn’t going to, I tried to check up and not slide up into him, but…I wish I wouldn’t have done that.”  

Photo by John Knittel for SpeedwayMedia.com.

“I completely understand why he’s that mad,” Reddick added. “He did nothing wrong. Just trying to win the race. Take myself out, that’s one thing like I can live with that. I’m just disappointed it played out the way it did and took him out of the race as well. That was not the goal there. Just have to work on that and try to make some better decisions going forward.”  

Compared to Buescher, Reddick has one victory under his belt through the first 12 events of the 2024 Cup Series schedule after he won at Talladega Superspeedway three races ago. Despite being currently guaranteed a spot into the 2024 Cup Series Playoffs, Reddick also dropped one spot in the regular-season standings as he is ranked in sixth place and trails Larson by 90 points as he continues his pursuit for additional victories before the regular season’s conclusion in August. 

With Darlington Raceway in the rearview mirror, the next event on the 2024 Cup Series schedule for Buescher, Reddick and the rest of the field is the NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, where both Buescher and Reddick are set to compete in for equal chances of the event’s prize of $1 million.

The 2024 NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway is set to occur next Sunday, May 19, and air at 8 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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