So how do you coax a racecar around a road course when you know you are running
out of fuel? Just ask NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Chris Buescher as he won his first career checkered flag in the series.
The win came at the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Buescher was given the news that he would probably be short on fuel with less than two laps to go for his first Nationwide win from Crew Chief Scott Graves. Buescher said the news rattled his nerves a bit as he knew he had already been saving fuel as much as he could.
"It was cool to pull it off and have plenty left over for a good burnout at the end," Buescher said.”
"Not going to lie. Scott about had my nerves shot there at the end," Buescher said. "We were trying to save all we could there knowing that we were trying to keep the distance on the guys behind us."
A Slim Lead
Heading into the final laps of the race Buescher only had a slim lead of about two or three seconds which can be wiped away quickly during road course racing. Drivers such as Regan Smith and Brian Scott tried to close the gap several times but Buescher managed to hit his marks in the turns while keeping enough speed down the straights in order to secure the win without running out of fuel.
"I don't know for the life of me how the 60 made it on fuel,” Smith said after finishing second. “Because nobody else in the field was even near that fuel mileage, that was pretty interesting."
The slim lead that Buescher maintained after the final caution involving Jeff Green may have been the best thing that happened all day according to crew chief Scott Graves. The caution lasted three laps and may have allowed Bueshcer to save just enough gas for the win. They finished the race with a little more of one second to spare over the second place car.
"The way the race played out helped us as well," Graves said. "When everybody did pit, we had a big enough lead, and I think that allowed him to save a little bit more for a few laps."
Another Series Winner
Buescher became the third rookie winner in the Nationwide series this season. Another rookie to win this season in the series, Chase Elliott, came in the fourth spot and he was followed by Alex Tagliani in the fifth position. The battle for the win at the end was clearly between the top three cars and as the final seconds clicked away it was clear that nobody would catch Buescher according to Smith.
"I was surprised that he made it. I didn't have much more for him at the end," Smith said.
Scott came close to winning the race with his impressive third place finish. Scott and Tagliani bumped and traded paint earlier in the race in a clash that sent Scott off the course and into the grass. Scott drove on but his air intake was covered with grass. He started to overheat but made it to the pits where his crew cleaned his car up and sent him on.
The move saved the car from overheating but sent him several cars behind the leader. He was able to fight back through the field and come close to the win crossing the finish line behind Buescher and Smith. Buescher said winning his first race at a road course with other drivers such as Scott battling as hard as they did for the win was a humbling experience.
"It was a really humbling experience and really cool to get our first win here under these circumstances.”