Ford Performance NASCAR: Watkins Glen (Chris Buescher)


Ford Performance NSCS Notes and Quotes

Cheez-It 355 at the Glen – Watkins Glen International

Friday, August 4, 2016


Chris Buescher cemented the first of two requirements to make the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup with his improbable victory Monday at Pocono. Buescher, just six points shy of the top-30 in points to meet the other requirement, met with media members Friday morning at Watkins Glen to discuss his first Cup win and the short turnaround and new look on the season.

CHRIS BUESCHER, No. 34 CSX Play it Safe Ford Fusion – WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS COMING OUT OF POCONO AND HEADING INTO SUNDAY’S RACE? “First of all I am really excited to be here at Watkins Glen. It is a race track we have run really well at and I just in general like road racing. I think it breaks up our schedule and is something different for us all to do. We are not road course ringers out there for the most part. There are a handful of them out there that do pretty exceptional compared to others though. Just leaving Pocono it was a pretty awesome weekend and really good strategy on the part of Bob Osborne, due in part to a cut tire early in the race when we were trying to avoid a wreck and ended up cutting a left rear down and put us off strategy. A lot of things came into play and worked out in our favor finally. We have been through our fair share of bad luck this year and that is kind of why we even have to talk about making it into the top-30 in points, because we have had three races that ended in DNF’s and for the most part were out of our doing. Two of them we just got hit in the right rear and ruined our day and cost us a lot of points throughout the season. If we look at it now, we are in good shape to be heading forward. Our cars have been a lot better each and every weekend. The last six or seven or eight weeks we have been unloading with a lot better speed and finishing better and staying running better in the race and when we look ahead, after this weekend we are going to a lot of places for the second time finally so we have a good notebook between Bob and myself. With our first year working together we feel like we have better chemistry now and can pick up speed in the next five races leading up to the Chase.”

HOW CONFIDENT ARE YOU THAT YOU CAN GET INTO THE TOP-30 AND STAY THERE AND ARE YOU EXPECTING MORE SUPPORT NOW FROM ROUSH FENWAY? “I absolutely think we can get into the top-30. We really shouldn’t have been out of it. It has just been some circumstances that have gotten us a little off track and from my standpoint, I was trying to add it up and my stock car racing career starting at 16 when I started racing ARCA, I have had three cars that we have had to throw away or at least front clip. That is a rather small number and we have gone through four this year alone. In that circumstance we have just had really bad luck on superspeedways this season. Trevor (Bayne) when we were on our way to Utah to do a road racing class earlier this week said, ‘Man, it just looks like you just need a whole lot of bad luck to get one day of good luck.’ It kind of turned out that way. As we go forward, we have had pretty awesome support from Roush Fenway this year. A lot of the races we have been kind of half-and-half on what we are doing but as we look at the Chase coming up here I think we will be able to try to step up our program as much as possible. I know when we landed from Utah, our 34 team was still in the shop at 10:30 at night to make sure we had the best piece possible for the Glen this weekend. I know the team is working as hard as they possibly can to make sure we are running better.”

WILL THIS OPEN MORE SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITY IF YOU GET IN THE TOP-30 AND WHAT HAS YOUR WEEK BEEN LIKE WITH ATTENTION FROM THE WIN? “As far as the week, I don’t think I have sat down in a meeting yet. We have stayed traveling. We left Pocono and didn’t celebrate the slightest bit and got back to the bus and it was TP’d and we cleaned the toilet paper off after it got rained on. Then we went to Utah for the next day and a half and then came back. I am pretty sure I spent Wednesday and Thursday on the phone just doing interviews straight through to the next one. It is a really good problem to have. I killed my phone batter twice in one day which is a new record for me. It has been wild how everything has played out and I haven’t had time for it to settle in and feel like we won a race. It has been so crazy. We are heading in the right direction now and heading toward that top-30 in points and getting in the Chase. We are going to get there. We have been on the right trend and working toward getting out of that hole we have been in for quite a while knowing that we wanted to get in the top-30 in case something did come up.”

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO SINK IN THAT YOU WON? “I don’t think it has yet just because of how busy we have stayed. I really haven’t had time to just relax and settle in yet. I haven’t really gotten to go see any of my friends that would usually be talking about it or pumped up about it. It has been from one outing to the next and all about trying to make sure we are better for the Glen here this weekend. All the RFR drivers and Landon (Cassill) and myself were out in Utah practicing and doing some shifting in some Mustangs. Then we came back and, like I said, I have been on the phone so much there is no time to really sit down and go see anybody for lunch even. It has been wide open. I imagine next week when we have that off weekend and going home to see some family we will be able to relax and really let it set in then.”

GOING INTO THE SEASON, WAS A WIN EVEN ON YOUR RADAR AS A POSSIBILITY? “Yeah, it was our main goal at the beginning of the season when Bob and I sat down for the first time to really get to know each other. I have worked with him very little just through some R&D testing several years ago and hadn’t had a whole lot of interaction so we sat down and talked about what we were going to do this season. We set our goal right there to make the Chase and we knew that would include either being really good in points and really consistent or getting a win. It was not something that we just discounted and said we weren’t worrying about, it was our goal from the start.”

A LOT OF YOUR FELLOW COMPETITORS HAD NICE THINGS TO SAY ABOUT YOU GETTING THE WIN. WHAT DID THAT MEAN TO YOU? “That was really cool. Considering how competitive the sport is and how cut-throat it is most of the time, to be able to see everybody come by and congratulate us – a lot of them were a little early and I kept saying I wasn’t getting my hopes up just sitting out there in fog. There was no rain and the track was still dry and they all kept saying, ‘We are done.’ Everyone seemed to know better than I did. I did realize once they called it half the guys were changed in street clothes. Landon was one of the first guys to me and he was showered and in normal clothes already. They must have known something I didn’t. It was really cool to see so many of them come by. Brad Keselowski, as soon as the red flag came out, came by the car and obviously said that he wanted to get it but if it didn’t go back green that he was happy for us. For Tony Stewart to come by and David Ragan who has been a great friend of mine, he and his whole family have helped me a ton to be in the position to keep for Cup win. Chase Elliott came by and said congratulations. Greg Biffle, the list goes on. A lot of guys that came by and said, ‘Good job.’ It is special. To be able to break it up a little in the season, I know we are throwing a wrench at a lot of peoples brackets for the Chase but it is going to be a pretty wild ride to the end and I am glad a lot of people are appreciative. There are a lot of guys that deserve their first win as well and they are getting there. We just happened to play the circumstances out a little better at Pocono.”

WHY WAS IT NECESSARY FOR YOU TO GO TO A ROAD COURSE RACING SCHOOL? WHAT DID THEY SEE IN YOUR PROGRAM THAT THEY THOUGHT YOU MAY NEED TO IMPROVE ON? “I think when we talked about road racing we know that non of us are experts. We went out there; Landon, myself, Trevor and Ricky (Stenhouse) and Ryan (Blaney) and Bubba (Wallace) were out there as well. They were out there Monday when we were running our race. It isn’t a think we know we need improving in a certain area, it is just a lot of commitment from Ford to try to improve their road racing program in general. To have a school that we can go out to, we had other drivers that are road course ringers on the Ford side in Billy Johnson who drives a Ford GT and a Mustang. Brandon Davis was out there. He actually ran on the ARCA side with me for a handful of races and is extremely good on road courses. Those two guys out there and a couple of more just trying to help us tune into anything we can. Those BOSS 302 Mustangs are not going to drive like a stock car but at the same time they have lot of different characteristics that are exaggerated of what we would usually feel so you can adjust and figure things out that will play over to this side.”

GIVEN THE FACT THAT YOU ARE CURRENTLY THE ONLY ROUSH DRIVER, SO TO SPEAK, WITH AN OPPORTUNITY AT THE CHASE, DO YOU FEEL YOU WILL HAVE MORE OR IMPROVED SUPPORT FROM THEM GOING FORWARD? “We look at this season and it has been really good for us. It has been a great rookie season. I have been learning a lot and we have been in different cars on different weeks. When we look at the schedule coming up here, really we have had it in place to start working in more support and working on building cars as similar as possible. Front Row Motorsports has made huge investments to be able to copy as closely as possible what the Roush cars are doing for body stuff, for chassis stuff, and the race cars have gotten better. On that side of things we are naturally having better cars brought to the race track as we get into this part of the season anyway but I think we look at these next five races and there is opportunity to have as much support as possible. It has been an open book between organizations this season. We have shared everything we can and our meetings are integrated after practice and after race day. When we do our Tuesday meetings we are pretty much all involved and all working toward the same thing. I don’t feel like it is something that is really going to be changing a whole lot, we are just going to do it to the full extent we have available right now.”

HOW MUCH CONFIDENCE DO YOU GET FORM WINNING AND HOW DO YOU USE THAT IN THE CAR? “It is always big to be able to pull off a win and get the first one out of the way. I remember on the XFINITY side winning at Mid-Ohio. I am not a road course racer by trade, that isn’t how I grew up, but it brought in a new confidence for every racetrack we went to going forward. We still had a lot to learn on the ovals then and we actually didn’t get our first oval win in 2014, we had to wait until the next year. It is just a matter of getting the team jacked up and everybody on the same idea going forward that this is for real, a big moment. This win with the Chase being the way it is and the point system different from last year in XFINITY, a win basically turns our whole season around. It changes everything. It is no longer one win and you move up a spot or two in points. It is one win and you potentially have a spot in the playoffs of our sport. We are not there yet because we have to get into that top-30 but with that win it gets everybody excited to get to that point. That is why when we landed from Utah at 10:30 and I get a picture as soon as we land from the car chief that they are still in the shop working and digging and the car is still in primer and then I show up the next morning and it is wrapped and off the dyno. They are hustling and working extremely hard to make sure we make this Chase. We are going to get there. I have a ton of confidence in these guys. I love where our program was heading previous to Pocono. We have been on the right path and we will make up those points.”

IS THERE ANY PLAN FOR YOU TO GET INTO THE XFINITY CAR MAYBE IN THE CHASE OR WAS THERE CONSIDERATION FOR YOU TO RUN IT HERE THIS WEEKEND. “Yeah, Trevor beat me to it. He is running the 60 car this weekend to get more experience. I was looking at practice and it looks like they fired off pretty good. I would love to run more XFINITY races. I feel like you see a lot of guys do it and they say it benefits them. I say that and then on the other side of it we look at the schedules right now and I don’t remember where it was, it wasn’t but a couple weeks ago that like five minutes after one practice you are on to the next one. That leaves no time to debrief on either side and you end up sacrificing one heavily or both slightly in my opinion. I want to make sure we are focused on our Cup program as much as we can be, just how we were focused fully on the XFINITY side last year when I subbed the six races in the 34 car. We would cut practice short just to be able to debrief and get over to the next garage in time to not hurt our main focus. If we did run XFINITY races this season it would be hard to get the 110% focus to really make it worthwhile. But if we had five or 10 come up to go run I would love to do it, we just haven’t had everything fall in place quite yet.”

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.