Chris Buescher Blazes Through Field To Win Cook Out 400 At Richmond Racewayby Hunter Thomas July 31, 2023 1 comment
RICHMOND, Va. – Chris Buescher started 26th on Sunday at Richmond Raceway, but he blazed through the field and put on a smoke show after winning the Cook Out 400.
Following Saturday’s qualifying session, it appeared that the Toyotas were going to be the class of the field but come Sunday, the Toyotas dominated early, but it was the RFK Racing Fords that performed well in the final half of the 400-lap race.
Chris Buescher drove the No. 17 Fastenal Ford to Victory Lane, but he had to survive a three-lap dash to the finish when the only caution of the day for an accident came out on Lap 392.
“Yeah, inevitable”, Buescher said about the late-race caution. “We knew it was coming. I knew when we started that run, it was winding down the laps from 60 to 40 to 20 to 15, I knew it was coming. Mentally was prepared for it.”
On the restart, Buescher lined up as the leader on the inside with Denny Hamlin alongside of him. When the green flag flew, the filed took off, and it was Buescher who controlled the lead. Hamlin had one final look on the high side as the field exited Turn 2, but Buscher held the spot. On the following lap, Hamlin was setting Buscher up, but he locked up his tires heading into Turn 1, and Buescher sealed the deal.
“Our takeoff speed was so good today from green-flag stops to restarts,” Buescher said. “We were always moving forward. Just a really fast race car that basically made me feel like no matter what the circumstances there towards the end, we were going to be in really good shape.”
Buescher is currently having the best season of his nine-year career in the NASCAR Cup Series. Sunday’s win marked his first of the season, but the 30-year-old has obtained four top-five and nine top-10 finishes with an average finish of 13.5 in the first 22 races. He currently sits 13th in the standings and will compete in the NASCAR Playoffs.
“We’ve worked hard to have that consistency,” Buescher said. “But we’re not indestructible where we’re at, that a win would take care of everything. That’s our sport: winning fixes everything. It fixes the points talk. It fixes morale. It fixes bad weekends. Everything can be changed by winning. From that standpoint, it’s awesome that we are in the Playoffs. That was part of our goal at the beginning of the season. At RFK we talked about winning races, making the Playoffs, and being able to be a contender in the Playoffs.”
Despite locking up the tires in the final laps, Hamlin held on to finish second, followed by Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Ryan Preece. Buescher’s teammate, Brad Keselowski finished sixth. Rounding out the top-10 was Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola, Austin Dillon and Kevin Harvick.
Pole-sitter, Tyler Reddick won Stage 1, and Keselowski led the RFK one-two in Stage 2.
There were 18 lead changes among eight drivers. RFK Racing led a combined 190 laps, with Keselowski leading a race high of 102, and Buescher leading 88.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. leads teammate, Hamlin in the standings by 39 points.
The NASCAR Cup Series will visit Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, August 6 for the FireKeepers Casino 400. Live coverage will broadcast on USA at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com