DOVER, Del. – When racing pundits were making their Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup predictions at the start of the 2016 season, it’s doubtful that Chris Buescher made anyone’s top 16.
Nevertheless, Buescher defied the odds and qualified for the Chase on the strength of an unlikely victory in the rain-shortened Aug. 1 race at Pocono.
But the opening two events of the playoff didn’t go the way the driver of the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford would have liked. Buescher finished 28th at Chicagoland and 30th at New Hampshire to fall into last place in the Chase standings, 30 points below the cut line.
To avoid elimination when the Chase field is trimmed from 16 drivers to 12, Buescher almost certainly needs a victory in Sunday’s Citizen Soldier 400 at Dover International Speedway (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN) to advance to the next round.
To Buescher, surprisingly, that means a stress-free weekend at the Monster Mile.
“We look at Dover as the last race of this round, and we really don’t have anything to lose,” Buescher said. “Chicago and Loudon weren’t the races that we wanted to have, and we come into Dover, one of my favorite race tracks.
“I’m excited to get on track. This should be a place where we can really have a good run and see if we can advance to that next round. It’s going to be tough at this point, but this is probably our best race track out of this round, so I’m excited to get going.”
In his only previous Sprint Cup start at the Monster Mile—a wreck-filled war of attrition on May 15—Buescher finished 18th, four laps down. But in four NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at Dover, Buescher has one victory, three top 10s and a worst finish of 11th.
“Like we said, we don’t really have anything to lose here,” said the 2015 XFINITY Series champion. “All we have to do is gain, so, to me, it’s going to make it to where we’re able to go out here and not worry about it, take some chances, try and utilize some risk and see if we can pull something off.”