A significant milestone is in the making for Chris Buescher, the 2015 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion and driver of the No. 17 Ford Mustang for Roush Fenway Racing in the Cup Series, in the midst of his final battle for a spot in the 2020 Cup Playoffs. When the green flag waves on Saturday, August 29, at Daytona International Speedway, Buescher will reach 250 starts between the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series.
A native from Prosper, Texas, and the cousin of the 2012 NASCAR Truck Series champion James Buescher, Chris Buescher made his first two career starts within NASCAR’s top three major division series in May 2011 and in the No. 16 Ford Mustang for Roush Fenway Racing. By then, he was also competing in his first full-time season in the ARCA Racing Series with Roulo Brothers Racing. Buescher made his Xfinity debut at Richmond International Raceway in April, where he started 21st and finished 17th. He returned for the following race at Darlington Raceway, where he started and finished 17th.
After winning four ARCA Racing Series races and the overall championship in 2012, he returned to the Xfinity Series in 2013 and competed in seven races in Roush’s No. 16 Ford Mustang. His best results during his seven-race span with Roush were a pair of seventh-place results at Bristol Motor Speedway in March and at Michigan International Speedway in June.
In 2014, Buescher competed on a full-time basis in the iconic No. 60 Ford Mustang for Roush Fenway Racing in the Xfinity Series led by crew chief Scott Graves. He failed to qualify for the season opener at Daytona International Speedway in February, but he rebounded the following two races, where he finished 15th at Phoenix and ninth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Two months later, Buescher recorded a seventh-place result at Richmond and he backed it up with a career-best runner-up result the following race at Talladega Superspeedway behind Elliott Sadler.
From Iowa Speedway in May through Watkins Glen International in August, Buescher recorded four top-10 results and was ranked in seventh place in the standings. The following race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Buescher achieved his first NASCAR Xfinity career win in his 31st series start and after gambling late on fuel while also holding off Regan Smith and Brian Scott. For the remaining 11 races of the season, Buescher achieved six additional top-10 results and he concluded the season in seventh place in the final standings. Overall, he recorded a win, five top-five results, 14 top-10 results and an average result of 12.6. in his first full-time season in the Xfinity circuit.
He returned to the series in 2015. Compared to the previous season, Buescher made the starting grid for the season opener at Daytona, where he finished in second place behind teammate Ryan Reed. From Atlanta Motor Speedway in February through Talladega in May, he achieved five top-10 results and was ranked in second place in the standings. The following race at Iowa, Buescher made a three-wide pass for the lead on teammate Reed and Chase Elliott in a two-lap shootout to win and achieve his second Xfinity career victory. The win allowed Buescher and his No. 60 Ford team to take over the points lead. Two races later at Dover International Speedway in May, Buescher made contact with Bubba Wallace twice with approximately 10 laps remaining and in a late fuel mileage battle to take over the lead and muscle to his third career win (second of the season), though the victory was controversial due to the on-track contact with his Roush teammate.
For the remainder of the season, from Michigan in June through Phoenix in November, Buescher was consistent as he achieved 12 top-10 results and retained the points lead over Elliott, Ty Dillon and Regan Smith. Following an 11th-place result in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Buescher achieved his first NASCAR Xfinity Series championship by 15 points over Elliott, 18 over Dillon and 22 over Smith. The Xfinity championship was the fifth for Roush Fenway Racing overall as Buescher capped off the season with two victories, 11 top-five results, 20 top-10 results and an average result of 8.4.
Throughout the season, Buescher also made his first six career starts in the NASCAR Cup Series and in the No. 34 Ford Fusion for Front Row Motorsports. His first Cup race was at Auto Club Speedway in March, where he started 33rd and finished 20th. He also drove FRM’s No. 34 car at Martinsville in March, Texas and Bristol in April, Talladega in May and at Watkins Glen in August. He finished in the top 30 in all races, except for Watkins Glen.
Nearly a month after achieving the Xfinity championship, Buescher graduated to a full-time driving role in the Cup Series for Front Row Motorsports for the 2016 season. Driving the No. 34 Ford Fusion, Buescher and Front Row Motorsports received technical support from Roush Fenway Racing and veteran Bob Osborne was named crew chief for the Texas native. Buescher’s rookie Cup season started off on a low note after he was involved in a multi-car accident just shy of the halfway mark. From Atlanta in February through Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July, his highest finishes were a 14th-place result at Indy and an 18th-place result at Dover in May as he struggled with consistency. One of his low moments through the first half of the season was being involved in a harrowing multi-car wreck at Talladega in May on Lap 96 of 188, where he was clipped by Michael Annett, rolled over and flipped three times in the middle of the straightaway before his No. 34 Ford came to rest on all four wheels. Despite the wild ride, the ongoing pack managed to dodge Buescher’s car and the Texas native was able to escape uninjured.
At Pocono Raceway in August, Buescher emerged with the lead late in the race as he was running on a different fuel cycle/pit strategy from the leaders and with storm clouds and heavy fog beginning to surround the track. After NASCAR drew the caution and red-flagged the race due to the weather, the race was deemed official 22 laps shy of the finish and Buescher was awarded his first Cup career victory in his 27th series start. Buescher’s first Cup triumph marked the first time since 2009 where a Cup Rookie-of-the-Year candidate won a Cup race, it was the second for Front Row Motorsports since the team’s first and lone win at Talladega in 2013 with David Ragan and the first for crew chief Bob Osborne since 2011. Though Buescher won, he was ranked in 31st place in the regular-season standings and he needed to be ranked in 30th or above in the standings prior to Richmond in September to be eligible for the Playoffs. Despite finishing 30th the following race at Watkins Glen due to being involved in a late multi-car wreck, he rallied the next race at Bristol with a strong fifth-place result as he moved into the top 30 in the standings. He went on to finish 35th, 17th and 24th in the next three races (Michigan, Darlington and Richmond) and remain in the top 30 in the standings as he made the 2016 Cup Playoffs.
During the Playoffs, however, Buescher was eliminated from title contention after finishing 28th, 30th and 23rd in the first round (three races). His best result throughout the final 10 races was a 16th-place result at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October as he concluded the season in 16th place in the standings and was beaten by Chase Elliott for the Rookie-of-the-Year title. Following the 2016 season, Buescher surpassed 100 career starts between the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series.
For the 2017 season, Buescher changed gears and moved from Front Row Motorsports to JTG-Daugherty Racing to pilot the team’s newly formed No. 37 Chevrolet SS led by crew chief Trent Owens, where he became a teammate to A.J. Allmendinger. Throughout the season, however, Buescher only achieved four top-10 results, a best result of sixth place at Michigan in August and at Kansas Speedway in October, and he concluded the season in 25th place in the final standings.
Buescher remained with JTG-Daugherty Racing in the Cup Series for the 2018 and 2019 Cup seasons. During the last two seasons with the team, he achieved a total of two top-five results and six top-10 results as his best points result was 20th place in 2019. His highest on-track results during the two seasons were a pair of fifth-place results in both Daytona races in 2018.
Following the 2019 season, Buescher rejoined Roush Fenway Racing to pilot the iconic No. 17 Ford Mustang led by crew chief Luke Lambert in 2020, where he became a teammate to veteran Ryan Newman. Ironically, he replaced Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who made the move to JTG-Daugherty Racing to replace Buescher. In his first run in the No. 17 car, Buescher recorded a strong third-place result at the Daytona 500 in February. From Las Vegas Motor Speedway in February to Homestead in June, his highest result was a 10th-place run in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte in May before he achieved a sixth-place result the following race at Talladega. From the Pocono Raceway doubleheader in June through the Michigan doubleheader in August, his highest result was a 10th-place run in the first Pocono race. In the inaugural Daytona International Speedway Road Course event, he made a late charge to finish in fifth place. Finally, he is coming off a 16th- and 14th-place run following a Cup Dover doubleheader.
Through 25 regular-season races this season, Buescher has achieved two top-five results, five top-10 results and an average result of 18.9. He is ranked in 21st place in the regular-season standings and is 183 points below the top-16 cutline to qualify for this year’s Cup Playoffs, which will be determined this Saturday, August 29, at Daytona International Speedway.
Catch Buescher’s milestone start at Daytona on August 29 at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC.