James Buescher feels blessed after phenomenal championship seasonBy Ashley McCubbin
Meanwhile, Ty Dillon restarted sixth and quickly began to make his way through traffic, up to second in the running order at one point. With Dillon continuing to make passes, the gap between Buesher and Dillon began to shrink, all the way down to one single point.
“It definitely was a nail-biter down to the end,” Buescher said in the media center. “We were in range of being the champion for most of the race, and one of the late restarts there Ty got a good jump on the field and was making a charge for the lead it looked like. But I was doing everything I could to keep our Great Clips Chevy going forward.”
Buescher said throughout the whole night, he was keeping his eye on the championship situation, seeing where he was running versus Dillon and Timothy Peters, watching the position.
“When he was up to second, I didn’t know where I was, I just knew I needed to be further up for some insurance,” he added.
However, Dillon’s championship chances would come to end when Kyle Larson dived underneath Dillon in turns three and four and Dillon came down slightly. The pair would make contact, both hitting the wall, collecting Ryan Blaney.
Buescher would escape the wreck and pit under caution to make sure that none of the debris cut the tires.
“When they wrecked, I didn’t know if I hit any debris or not, but there was a lot of it, and parts flying everywhere, and the fact that the 17 (Peters) was right around us on the racetrack, we didn’t have a lot to give up to go in and pit, so it was the safe call to go in, put four fresh tires on, or fresher tires on, and make sure that we didn’t have any holes in the tires and nothing crazy to happen for a green-white checkered,” he said. “It was definitely the right call to me, and now we get to celebrate as champions.”
He would complete the final green-white-checkered of the event, finishing 13th to win the championship.
“It was pretty loose and really slick out there,” he said. “We struggled finding speed in our truck tonight. But we did what we had to do to win the championship, and it worked out in our favor.”
Buescher thought that he would’ve run better, considering this was the same truck that gave Buescher the four victories this year.
“For whatever reason, we were just off,” he said. “We got off in practice, and we figured out where we were off, and my teammates – the 4 and the 30 were really fast all night. We saw that, and we looked into their notes after practice, talked with those guys and were able to get our truck back in the right direction. This racetrack is a lot different than every other mile and a half out there. It is just different.”
Truck owner Steve Turner said that the truck will be put in the warehouse, never run again as they are proving week after week that the new trucks they are building are better.
After the checkered flag, Buescher admits he was worried about celebrating prematurely.
“There was kind of silence on the radio after we crossed the start-finish line,” he said. “I think I made it all the way to Turn 3 before somebody really said that we were the champions. I was seeing where the 17 was on the track. I knew he was quite a few spots ahead of us, but I didn’t know exactly how many, and I wanted the official word before I started getting too excited.”
It marks the first ever championship for the 22-year-old driver, who becomes the series second youngest champion.
“I’ve got to thank everybody on this team, Michael Shelton, Steve Turner for a great year,” he said. “Championship or no championship, it was going to be a great year, and to win the championship after winning four races this season makes it an incredible year.”
Four wins, 10 top fives and 14 top 10s in 22 races for Buescher showcases the strength of Turner Motorsports for the second straight year. Last year, he finished the year with 0 wins, 10 top fives and 19 top 10s, though would finish third in points.
With three races to go, Buescher looked to be in the driver’s seat with a 21 point lead. However, after blowing a tire with four laps to go at Phoenix while running in the top 10, Buescher came into Phoenix leading by only 11 points over Peters.
“It seems like the points leader all year long in this Camping World Truck Series has had just bad luck,” Buescher said. “Anybody that took over the points lead would run into trouble, and we saw it all year long, the 3 (Dillon), the 17 (Peters), the 6 (Justin Lofton) when he was leading the points early on, and us earlier this season, we got the points lead and gave it right back.
“It seems like if you’re the points leader, you were giving up points. We did everything we could to give up not too many.”
Buescher’s worst finish of the year was a 30th at Iowa, however he only managed to finish outside of the top 20 twice – Iowa and a 22nd at Charlotte.
“Coming into this weekend with an 11-point lead, I knew that our team was good enough not to give up 11 points,” Buescher continued. “So it was just a matter of things that are out of our control that could have played into us not winning this championship tonight.”
The season caps off a great year for Buescher, which saw him marry Kris in January before the season started.
“My wife is my No. 1 supporter, so to be able to start off the race season after taking that next step in my life with a win at Daytona was incredible, best thing I’d ever done in racing,” he said. “You know, that kind of opened the floodgates for us to win some races on the truck side. We won four of them, and now we’re the champions.
“Being the champion of the Truck Series definitely trumps winning a race at Daytona, but the race at Daytona is still pretty high up there. But it’s been a phenomenal year for my racing career and for my personal life. I just feel really blessed.”