Roush Racing’s performance – particularly that of Buescher – was an unexpected surprise in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Buescher first moved into the lead on Lap 53 of 267 with a crafty “slide job” pass of Brad Keselowski and ended up winning the first stage of the race. It was just the second stage win of his career.
He followed that up with a sixth-place finish in the second stage, losing his lead to Martin Truex Jr. during a round of green-flag pit stops.
By the start of the final stage, Buescher had led 57 of 160 laps. But he wouldn’t lead again.
Once the sun went down, the handling of Buescher’s No. 17 Ford went away and he ended up with a 19th-place finish. His teammate, Ryan Newman, managed to finish seventh, although he never led a lap.
While the end result was obviously frustrating, the Roush group’s performance Sunday turned a lot of heads. Buescher, 28, set a career-best mark for laps led in a race (his previous best was 15).
“It was a really good start for us, and I was really happy with the speed we had in the daylight,” Buescher said. “I think we knew this would be a pretty good test for what we were able to have made gains on during the off-season.
“With that, unfortunately, the night did not do us a whole lot of favors, and dirty air was really rough on us there at the end. But we still learned a ton out of it.”
Buescher said he may have picked up some damage on his fender late in the race but wasn’t going to use that as an “excuse.”
“We’ve got to keep working at it hard, but I am really proud of everybody and everybody back at the shop. They did a really nice job on this race car,” he said.
“I think we made some awesome gains. We’ve just got to keep our heads down going to Las Vegas and see what we can apply and definitely work on what we can make better as the racing goes on.”
Strong showing by both Roush cars
Buescher said the performance by both he and Newman in Sunday’s race on an intermediate track should bode well for the season ahead.
“It’s a step in the right direction for us. You know, the finish is not something we’re real happy with right now, but it is good to see Ryan and the No. 6 guys be able to get a strong finish out of it,” he said.
“Really glad that we were able to run strong for a lot of the race, and we just have work to do to figure out how to help ourselves later on, how to work on our cars, or make them as good in
traffic as they can be, really work on executing everything perfectly through a race so that we can finish where we were able to get to early on.
“At the end of the day it is very frustrating because we definitely felt like we had a car capable of winning early on, and at the end, we definitely weren’t in that good a position and didn’t have that confidence.”