Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM


Bizarre Pocono Weekend Produces First Time Winner

Mother Nature isn’t the biggest NASCAR fan in the world. She never has been that cooperative, and I don’t think she ever will be.

Rain delayed the start of the Pennsylvania 400 from Pocono Raceway almost 24 hours, forcing NASCAR to postpone the event scheduled on Sunday, July 31 to Monday, August 1. In the end, it was a mixture of precipitation and fog – yes, fog – that forced the sanctioning body to end with 22 laps remaining on the scoring pylon. But an unfamiliar face emerged from the fog to claim his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory: Chris Buescher.

Oddly enough, a race being called at Pocono Raceway due to fog isn’t unfamiliar for the 23-year old native from Prosper, Texas. He finished second in an ARCA Series race due to that very reason. Buescher is also the reigning XFINITY Series champion, so this isn’t a HUGE shock.

Yes, the driver of the No. 34 Ford for Front Row Motorsports, a small, underfunded team that hasn’t gone to victory lane in a whopping 118 races (David Ragan at Talladega) took the checkered flag. Heck, at one point in the race, they were a lap down after suffering a flat tire. However, they battled for the lucky dog, got their lap back, and stayed out during what would be the final pit sequence just long enough for the caution to come out while they were leading. His crew chief, Bob Osborne, is a proven winner, grabbing over 15 trophies with Carl Edwards in the No. 99 car at Roush Fenway Racing in the mid-to-late 2000s, and he showed it.

Some will say it’s tainted, has an asterisk next to it due to weather, but a win’s a win, and nobody can take that away from Buescher and his team.

However, the 80-minute red flag due to visibility concerns and rain were some of the longest of Buescher’s life.

“It was stressful,” Buescher told NBCSN. “I tried not to get my hopes up because I know how these things can play out. Mother Nature can be really nice sometimes and really mean. If that sun would have come out, it would have changed our whole day.”

Now, his season has been changed. Buescher, with the win, is eligible to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

The driver of the No. 34 currently sits 31st in the standings, a mere six points outside the top 30. As long as Buescher is inside the top 30 when the regular season ends following the September 10 race at Richmond, he’s got a playoff spot locked up. Buescher is the first Rookie of the Year candidate to win a Sprint Cup race since Joey Logano accomplished the feat in 2009. Oddly enough, that win was also a rain-shortened race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Brad Keselowski ended up finishing in second place, Kevin Harvick (who was the fastest car and led seven laps) in fourth place and Harvick’s teammate, Tony Stewart, in fifth place. Regan Smith, driver of the No. 7 car for Tommy Baldwin Racing, another underfunded team, played the same game as Buescher and wound up finishing in third place, the best finish for them this season, and Smith’s best career finish since his upset win at Darlington in 2011.

Kyle Larson (led 37 laps) finished sixth, Denny Hamlin seventh, Carl Edwards eighth, Kyle Busch ninth and Kurt Busch, who started in the back of the field due to unapproved adjustments, rounded out the top ten in the Pennsylvania 400.

Larson had an incident with Austin Dillon, who finished 13th, while racing for the lead. The No. 3 of Dillon dove underneath the No. 42 of Larson on lap 79, forcing both drivers out of the groove and handing the lead over to Logano. However, Logano finished 37th after Chase Elliott (finished 33rd) got loose underneath the No. 22 and sent both drivers into the wall. Some other notable finishers include Kasey Kahne in 15th, Jimmie Johnson in 16th, Matt Kenseth in 17th and polesitter Martin Truex Jr. in 38th after multiple blown tires forced the No. 78, one of the fastest cars all weekend, to sustain damage irreparable.

Jeff Gordon finished in 27th, but had a scary moment. During the race, his seat belts became unlatched. Gordon, being the veteran he is, didn’t panic, and eventually got the belts re-buckled, and carried onward. He is still filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. (concussion-like symptoms), who is still unsure of a return date to the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

Next weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Watkins Glen International for the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen, the second and final road course race of the season. The race will be broadcast on USA Network due to the Olympics just past 2:30 p.m. ET.

NOTES: William Byron won the Pocono Mountains 150 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for his fifth win of the season, a new rookie record. Erik Jones also won the US Cellular 250 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Iowa Speedway. The NXS is also in action this upcoming weekend from Watkins Glen for the Zippo 200 (Saturday afternoon, CNBC).

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