Darlington race gives Chris Buescher a chance to put Kansas finish behind him

DARLINGTON, S.C. — Being a part of the closest finish in NASCAR history means little to Chris Buescher.

He’s been focused on how he lost the lead and then the race by .001 seconds to Kyle Larson last weekend at Kansas Speedway.

Buescher admits he’s watched the end of the race and “replayed it in my head no less than 100 times.”

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NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400

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Buescher, who starts a season-best third in Sunday’s Cup race at Darlington Raceway, says he has a list of things he would do different.

“Ultimately, the way we see it is you need to be in those positions to know what you want to do better next time,” Buescher said. “Someone told me, not about this weekend, but a long time ago that you’ve got to lose some to win some”.

One of the key questions about that overtime lap is why did Buescher take the middle lane entering Turn 3 instead of going high?

“We were better down low on restarts on four tires,” Buescher told NBC Sports. “That was something that I realized now on two might not have been strong enough to make that work. Obviously weren’t. Almost.

“It felt like we could really make up good ground for about three laps on the restart. Next part of that is if you go run the top, (Larson) had a run off of (Turn) 2. If we go run the top, we’re going to get either slid in front of or you’re going get slid into. You jus watch these races play out enough to know that you put yourself in a very vulnerable position as well.

“I thought with us being good on the bottom would be good enough to go down there. I was just trying to cover the bottom to make sure we had that. In doing that, (it) probably made it to where … I ended up missing the bottom. So then I ended up at the top, it’s not really where we wanted to be.”

Larson said Saturday that he was planning to go to the outside lane in Turn 3.

“I honestly thought that he would just run low and fast; kind of run the shorter distance,” Larson said of Buescher. “So, when he kind of ran the middle, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, wow, here we go.’ But it wasn’t until l got exited off of the corner to the straightaway that I thought we still had a shot here.”

NASCAR Clash at the Coliseum
NASCAR Clash at the Coliseum

Former teammates move on from Kansas incident

Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick made contact on the last lap at Kansas, causing Dillon to spin through the infield grass.

While Buescher has learned more about NASCAR’s high-speed camera that is pointed at the finish line and why the transponders are not used to determine the finish of a stage or race, he looks at what his team accomplished last weekend — “the most competitive mile-and-a-half that we’ve had.

“That was a better weekend than we had at Michigan (last year) when we won. I take that as the highlight of how it all went down and it kind of gets you through some of the bitterness of it as well. What we’re talking about it is how do we make that our baseline for mile-and-a-halves and see what we’re able to transfer here to Darlington.”

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NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400

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This weekend has started well for RFK Racing. Brad Keselowski qualified second on Saturday and Buescher right behind him. That was the first time this season Keselowski had advanced to the final round of qualifying.

While both RFK Racing teams have are winless this season, they’ve combined to finish runner-up in four of the last nine races. Buescher has been second at Phoenix and Kansas. Keselowski has been second at Texas and Talladega.

“Success is always going to be a win and nothing short of that,” Keselowski said Saturday. “I’m not going to call a second-place day a failure. It’s a strong showing. What we need is just to have strong showings week to week.”