"I Just Enjoy Road Racing," Chris Buescher Earns Second Straight Sonoma Top-Five

Finishing fourth, the Prosper, TX-native leaves Sonoma with a second consecutive top-five at the California road course, and his third top-five result of the 2023 NCS season.


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In the closing laps of the Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma, Chris Buescher and RFK Racing had the No. 17 Fifth Third Bank Ford Mustang hooked up, consistently posting some of the fastest times on-track.

But, it was a lack of track position and the lights-out dominance of Martin Truex, Jr. that prevented Buescher from competing for his third victory in the NASCAR Cup Series, having to settle for fourth.

Sunday's strong result marks the third top-five finish of the season for the Prosper, Texas-native, matching a single-season career-high total, which the driver set last year with RFK Racing.

“Everybody did a good job. Our Fifth Third Bank Mustang had really solid speed on the day,” said Buescher. “It was a methodical race. I thought we were in a good spot there at the end and got a little caught up in the retaliation stuff going on right in front of us and checked us up a good amount.”

“It’s hard to say if we had anything for [Truex]. We never quite got to him today, so I think we still have a little work to do yet, but it was a good job by everybody.”

Before scoring a runner-up result in last season's event at Sonoma, Buescher had struggled at the California road course, having only scored a single top-15 result in five starts.

Since last season's debut of the NextGen car, Buescher has arguably been the strongest driver at the 1.99-mile road course - the only driver to put together a top-five result in back-to-back years.

So, what has changed? According to Buescher, pretty much nothing.

“I just enjoy road racing," said Buescher. "I like doing something different from time to time. I’ve had a ball at these things since I was nine years old in a Bandolero running the infield road course at Texas. It clicked then and it’s continued throughout my career.”

The 30-year-old driver has developed a knack for this type of racing in recent years, although in a stealthy manner, accumulating four top-five and nine top-10 results in the last 17 road course events - dating back to 2020.

A nine-year veteran of the Cup Series, Buescher notes the assistance received from various (unnamed) road racers, along with former teammate AJ Allmendinger - whom he outran on Sunday - in helping to build strong runs, and as a result, confidence in his road racing ability.

“I’ve had good help from road racers to help me fine-tune some of that,” Buescher continued. “I had a good teammate in AJ Allmendinger for a few years, and all of that builds up to strong runs and enjoying these things. Take the time to let it sink in and know that you’re going to have a shot at it and confidence is high coming into it and that makes you have a good day.”

That mix of confidence and ability puts Buescher in decent position to secure the second post-season berth of his career, with three road courses on the docket in the next nine races - Chicago, Indy, Watkins Glen.

Sitting 11th in points, Buescher has maintained a 102-point advantage on the first driver below the cutline, Daniel Suarez. As of now, he and team co-owner Brad Keselowski (+96) look to be safe, but multiple new winners could make things tense for RFK Racing approaching Daytona.

The year-over-year glow-up from Keselowski and Buescher has given the two-car operation the chance to place both entries into the Playoffs, a far cry from their outlook at this point last season.

Putting together six top-five runs - three for each driver - in the season's opening 16 points-paying events, RFK Racing has cranked out more results inside the top-five in 2023, than they have in an entire season since 2017.

If that upward trajectory can continue throughout the summer, Brad Keselowski could find himself with a NASCAR Cup Series Playoff berth as a team owner for the first time

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