BOWMANVILLE, Ontario -- When the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series last raced on a road course, James Buescher was just 10 years old. That's partly why, aside from small pieces of practice and time spent in a race driving school, his experience level on twisty circuits is fairly thin.
It's also why the defending series champ had difficulty coming up with the words to describe how his truck was handling in the opening practice for the series at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
"It's hard for me to get used to talking about it in a fluent way," Buescher said. "It's different for us for sure and different for my whole crew, and different for the whole truck series in general."
One thing that isn't different is Buescher in the thick of a championship fight for the second straight year. He enters Sunday's inaugural Chevrolet Silverado 250 (2 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) on the 2.459-mile course in second place, just 49 points behind series leader Matt Crafton with nine races left in the season.
To help bolster his road-course experience, Buescher will also be making his NASCAR Canadian Tire Series debut, taking advantage of practice, qualifying and Sunday's preliminary race to gather more seat time.
"The biggest thing is more laps," Buescher said. "Every time I went out on the race track this morning, I got faster every time, so I feel like the more laps I can get, the better prepared I'll be for our race."
Buescher also enters Sunday's first-time event with a head of steam after ending a 17-race dry spell two weeks ago with his first win of the season at Michigan International Speedway. He followed the victory with a solid seventh-place run at Bristol Motor Speedway, helping move up one spot in the standings in each of the last two races.
Now, Buescher says, it's just a matter of minimizing mistakes and digging in to keep his title defense alive.
"You know, it had seemed like a long time since we'd won a race," Buescher said. "I'm not even sure how many races it was in between, but we'd had a frustrating first half of the season, I'd say. We've had a lot of finishes that didn't really show our performance. We've had some tough breaks and bad things happen, bad luck here and there and finally turned it around at Michigan, then followed that up with another top-10.
"People are saying we're back in the title hunt, but I don't think we ever fell out of it. We're just closer to the top now. There's plenty of racing to go."
For now, Buescher will try to get acclimated to a new brand of racing. Since he was in grade school the last time trucks made left and right turns in competition, he says he doesn't have much to go on, save for watching old race footage.
Even with a healthy level of uncertainty surrounding the new experience, Buescher counts visiting the historic course and making international inroads as a boon to the truck series' portfolio.
"I think this is long overdue for the truck series," Buescher said, pointing out that nearly every other NASCAR series has at least one road course on its schedule. "... I think that there should be a couple road course races on the schedule, and it would possibly get our truck schedule up to a 25-race schedule. It's good that we're up here and the Canadian presence, having NASCAR in Canada, it's something that should be here. There's a lot of NASCAR fans here, so for the truck series to be able to carry that banner this year is pretty cool."
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