Chris Buescher is not quite the unicorn among Xfinity Series drivers. For one thing, he is missing the horn on the front of his pony, the Bully Hill Vineyards Mustang.
But Buescher is the points leader going into Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300. And the one with the least championship points race experience. And the one Roush Fenway driver having a huge season, as none of the others have more than four top-five finishes (although Bubba Wallace runs behind Daniel Suarez for Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the series).
Last year’s Xfinity winner, Chase Elliott, trails Buescher by 18 points, with Ty Dillon 22 points back.
“I don’t really know if I’m the right person to be asking for advice,” Elliott said. “In my personal opinion, I wouldn’t ask me for advice, so I really don’t know. He doesn’t need my help. He’s done a good job, and those guys are deserving of the position they’re in.
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“And for the rest of us trying to catch up, I know at least I can speak for myself that we need to do a better job and try to catch up. We have an opportunity to do that this weekend.”
Said Dillon: “I haven’t been in his situation yet. So far, I’ve either been second or within a shot of winning it in the last race, and I envy the position that he’s in. But we’re all going to be battling hard, and it’s kind of, best of luck to everybody.”
Buescher shrugged off the inexperience factor.
“I mean, it’s definitely been noted or realized that we have not been in this scenario before,” Buescher said. “We definitely were way too far out of it last year and kind of watched from a distance. But you know, I think it’s going to be a learning experience for our entire team.
“It’s what we’ve done all of our lives, though,” he continued. “We may not be this exact position, but every one of us has come up racing, and whatever we’ve been racing, we’ve been fighting for that one point every weekend, and all the way down to the end of the season — it didn’t matter if you were on a motorcycle or racing a Bandolero at 8 years old.
“Something was stressful, something was tough to get at the end of the season, and [we’ve] been through plenty of those scenarios, just not at this level.”
Buescher’s lead means he needs only to finish at least 13th; at least 14th while leading a lap; or at least 15th leading the most laps.
That means (like all too many Nextel/Sprint Cup Series finales at Homestead) Buescher could race defensively and come out on top.
“It’s a little bit different scenario, obviously, trying to hold on to it versus chasing down,” Buescher said. “You’ve got to be a little bit more careful, but at the same time, I’ve been pretty adamant about how much I hate points racing. So I want to go have a good day, and I feel like this has been a good racetrack for us. I’ve only run one race there but had a lot of fun last year, first and foremost, and was able to get a top-five out of it.
“So I feel like this should be a good weekend for us. We just have to continue doing what we’ve done all year.
“We’ve just got to keep in mind our situation,” Buescher said. “Try not to be four-wide on a restart and try not to run up against the fence early in the race. I know there’s been a lot of blown tires there just from being too close to the fence and the debris up there.”