The hurt still lingers for Chris Buescher.
Headed for a possible top-five finish last Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway, Buescher had to make a late pit stop to fix a loose wheel and saw a potential breakthrough performance deteriorate into a 22nd-place finish.
“We didn’t qualify very good (25th), and that caught us a little off guard, because we usually qualify better,” Buescher said. “But as soon as the race got going, we started moving forward. We got in the top 10 pretty quickly—and right near the top five and held on. There’s no doubt in my mind that was a top-five day.
“That’s very encouraging for the team and for us. We expect it, but at the same time, when you actually get it, for us trying to fight for 15th every week… The whole race—we were there. It’s a boost. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t finish it out. It hurts. That one hurts.”
Buescher likewise showed speed in opening practice at Richmond Raceway, which has not been one of his better tracks. In race trim for the entire session, he was third on the speed chart behind Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin.
“I’m very pleasantly surprised with how practice went,” Buescher said. “I shouldn’t say I’m shocked. We ran a lot better at Phoenix (in March) than we have in the past. This one (Richmond) has kind of compared to that race track for me throughout the years, and all of our group was really excited coming into this. They worked really hard to find something different.
“We showed up with something different, and it had good speed. We’re trying to make it hold on a little longer (throughout a tire run). That’s always something you’re looking for here at Richmond.”
Buescher’s No. 37 JTG-Daugherty Chevrolet also was third fastest in 10-consecutive lap average behind Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series leader Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick. Busch swept both Richmond races last year.