Martin who: Chris Buescher wins Monday race at Michigan

BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN - AUGUST 07: Chris Buescher, driver of the #17 Castrol Edge Ford, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 07, 2023 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Chris Buescher accomplished something Roush-Fenway Keselowski Racing hasn’t done since 2010 Monday; score back-to-back wins.

Buescher held off a hard charging Martin Truex Jr. in a rain delayed NASCAR Cup series race at Michigan International Speedway to score his third career win and the first consecutive victory in 280 starts.

The win on the 2-mile superspeedway comes just over a week after Buescher won at Richmond Raceway. And a few days after team owner Brad Keselowski said the next step for the team is to win multiple races.

“Yeah, yeah, that was our plan, right?” Buescher said. “That’s what we come to do every weekend.

“Thank you for all the fans that hung out here on Monday with us. It’s awesome. Glad we got to get this whole thing in. I know it’s been a long weekend…Had to work for that one too, hard racing at the end. Martin was very clean with me. I appreciate that.

“Get to go to Victory Lane two weeks in a row. That’s pretty awesome.”

The race started after a rain delay on Sunday and went 74 laps with Martin Truex Jr. leading 30 of them and winning Stage 1. Rain stopped the ended and moved it to Monday and it appeared for a time that it would be another Monday domination by Truex demonstrated by the ease with which he charged through the field after pit stops on lap 104 had him restarting 10th.

Truex charged by Daniel Suarez coming to the line at the end of Stage 2 on lap 120 sweeping the Stages. Buescher would take the lead on lap 123 with Tyler Reddick close behind. In a tandem draft the two cars began to check out on the field at one point having a 6 second lead over Truex.

Buescher pitted under green on lap 156, with Reddick following. Buescher had a clean stop, but Reddick’s crew left a lug nut loose on a rear tire nearly causing him to spin and forcing him back in taking him out of contention.

Truex pitted a lap later and with a 9.6 second stop cut the gap to Buescher.

Buescher cycled back to the lead on lap 182, 18 laps to go, and soon Truex was looking for the lead. The pair were side by side with 12 to go but Truex got loose coming into Turn 1 and had to back out.

Truex regrouped and tried to mount one last charge with 5 to go but came up short and had to settle for second .152 seconds behind.

“I think we needed maybe a little bit longer run to wear the tires some more,” Truex said. “I feel like we were a little better. It’s hard to pass the leader on equal tires.

“It was a rocket. The leader in clean air is really, really hard to pass. Just didn’t quite have enough. All in all, a good day.”

Denny Hamlin was third and Keselowski fourth marking to second top 10 finish for the 2-car RFK team.

“We’re letting our results speak for themselves,” Keselowski said. “Chris has done a heck of a job driving the car. When you get wins, it feels really good.

“We got to keep some humbleness and keep our head down. There’s some great competition out here.”

Kyle Larson was fifth.

Polesitter Christoper Bell, needing a win to make the Playoffs, lost a tire Sunday and careened into the wall. The team was forced to wait until the race restarted on Monday to make repairs. Bell spun again Monday on lap 66 but recovered to finish 13th and maintain 10th in points with 3 races in the regular season to go.

The news wasn’t as good for Chase Elliott. Elliott, who missed a total of 7 races crashed on lap 36 Sunday and will need a win to make this year’s Playoffs. Kyle Busch also crashed on Sunday on lap 16 but has 3 wins this season.

Suarez was sixth, his teammate Ross Chastain seventh with Kevin Harvick in his last Michigan race in eighth. Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones rounded out the top 10.

The win for the Roush No. 17 was the first consecutive wins for the car since Matt Kenseth did it in 2009. This latest back to back performance for the team has many pointing to the team as the fastest among the Ford camp.

“I mean, results will do it, right?” Buescher said. Adding a caution: “We’ve got work to do yet. That’s massive progress right there for us to do at two vastly different racetracks. We got road races coming up. I’m excited for those, too. And Daytona. I look at the schedule we have ahead of us. This is a heck of a time to get turned on and get rolling.”

The NASCAR Cup series heads to the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday. Tyler Reddick is the defending winner.


Photos: NASCAR at Michigan International Speedway Monday Aug. 7, 2023

Greg Engle