Chris Buescher cap­tures first win when fog stops race

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By REID SPENCER

NASCAR Wire Ser­vice

— Chris Buescher sat in his car on pit road, dream­ing of the pos­si­bil­i­ties.

NASCAR had just red­flagged Mon­day’s rain­de­layed Penn­syl­va­nia 400 when a heavy fog set­tled over Po­cono Race­way af­ter 138 of a sched­uled 160 laps, and Buescher was the un­likely race leader.

“I’m think­ing of ev­ery kind of rain dance I can,” Buescher said on his ra­dio.

The men­tal rain dance worked.

When NASCAR ended the stop­page by call­ing the race be­cause of weather, Buescher had his first vic­tory as a NASCAR Sprint Cup Se­ries driver, and Front Row Motorsports had its first win since David Ra­gan took the check­ered flag at Tal­ladega Su­per­speed­way 118 races ago.

Buescher took the top spot by stay­ing out on the track, out­last­ing faster cars that had pit­ted be­hind him. Brad Ke­selowski fin­ished sec­ond, fol­lowed by Re­gan Smith, whose team made the same strate­gic call that pro­pelled Buescher to the un­likely vic­tory.

Kevin Har­vick ran fourth, fol­lowed by Ste­wart-Haas Rac­ing team­mate Tony Ste­wart.

Even though the early call of the race de­prived Ste­wart of a chance to win, he wished the best for Buescher dur­ing the red-flag pe­riod.

“He’s a good kid and

LONG POND, PA.

an XFIN­ITY cham­pion (2015),” Ste­wart said dur­ing the red-flag pe­riod. “It doesn’t mat­ter how you get your first win. You just want to get your first win. I hope it works out for him right now.”

For Buescher, the long, tense wait for NASCAR to call the event was well worth it.

“It was stress­ful,” said Buescher, who lost a lap be­cause of a pit road speed­ing penalty on Lap 94 and re­gained it as the high­estscored lapped car un­der cau­tion on Lap 109. “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.”

With rain in the area, Kyle Lar­son and Austin Dil­lon were among six driv­ers who stayed on the track un­der cau­tion on Lap 67, and when the race went green on Lap 73, Lar­son streaked into the lead with Dil­lon in pur­suit.

With a strong run off Turn 3, Dil­lon inched ahead at the start/fin­ish line on Lap 78, but Lar­son re­gained the top spot into Turn 1. Three laps later, Dil­lon moved to the in­side of Lar­son in Turn 3, and their Chevro­lets col­lided side-to-side.

Logano, who had given the two fron­trun­ners a wide berth, slipped to the in­side and into the lead, pass­ing both cars as they slid wide through the cor­ner.

When NASCAR called the fourth cau­tion of the day on Lap 85, Logano stayed out un­der the yel­low and brought the field to green on Lap 92.

Logano held the top spot un­til pole win­ner Martin Truex Jr. pounded the out­side wall for the third time on Lap 100 to bring out the fifth cau­tion. At that point, the field in­verted, with Logano and Kevin Har­vick pitting from the first and sec­ond po­si­tions, re­spec­tively.

That handed the lead back to Lar­son, who had pit­ted un­der yel­low on Lap 86, along with Brad Ke­selowski, Kyle Busch and Dil­lon.

On Lap 106, Logano’s win­ning chances evap­o­rated when Chase Eliott’s Chevro­let broke loose in the Tun­nel Turn (turn 2) and knocked Logano’s No. 22 Ford into the out­side wall. Elliott’s car also took ex­ten­sive dam­age when it nosed into the in­side wall.

But Buescher in­her­ited the lead dur­ing a cy­cle of green-flag pit stops that started on Lap 124 and was run­ning up front when NASCAR called the sev­enth cau­tion on Lap 133 be­cause of lack of vis­i­bil­ity.

Buescher can earn a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup if he fin­ishes the 26-race reg­u­lar sea­son in 30th place or higher in the se­ries stand­ings. Buescher cur­rently is six points be­hind 30th-place Ra­gan, who now drives for BK Rac­ing.

Buescher is the first Sunoco Rookie of the Year can­di­date to win a Sprint Cup race since Logano ac­com­plished the feat in 2009. Coin­ci­den­tally, Logano’s vic­tory came in a rain-short­ened race at New Hampshire.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY SEAN GROGAN

Ravens tight end Den­nis Pitta sprained his fin­ger in a scuf­fle with rookie line­backer Ka­malei Cor­rea Mon­day night.

GETTY IM­AGES FOR NASCAR

(R-L) Chris Buescher and crew chief Bob Os­borne pose with the tro­phy af­ter win­ning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Se­ries Penn­syl­va­nia 400 at Po­cono Race­way on Mon­day in Long Pond, Pa. The race was de­layed due to in­clement weather on Sun­day.

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