TOLEDO, Ohio – After leaving Salem Speedway and the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA Fall Classic, Chris Buescher has an 85-point lead atop the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards standings, greater than any leading driver’s advantage through 18 races this year.
Immediately following lap 48 of Saturday’s race, though, such a scenario might have been completely unexpected. Buescher found himself caught up in a turn four accident with substantial rear end damage, among other issues.
Having taken the lead from Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell winner Chase Elliott on the first lap, Buescher had led every lap but found himself driving to pit road. He came back onto the track 15th, the last driver on the lead lap.
Buescher rebounded to finish second, though, passing Elliott with less than 10 laps to go to take the first spot behind race winner Tom Hessert. On a night when Buescher’s championship hopes could have taken a severe blow, he actually improved his chances and made the race one to remember.
“It was too eventful for me, that’s for sure,” Buescher said. “We were really, really good right off the start there. Chase Elliott, I think he was really toying with me for the first couple laps, but he raced me really clean and I tried to return the favor there late in the race. It was a lot of fun with him so I’ve got to say thanks to him.”
Buescher drove to pit road several times following the lap 48 incident for service from his Roulo Brothers Racing crew. He did not need much time to pass his main championship rival, Frank Kimmel, who assumed second place behind Elliott after the initial crash. On Lap 87, with Kimmel falling back, Buescher passed him for seventh place. By the race’s halfway point at Lap 100, Buescher was in the top five.
At night’s end, Buescher had clinched the Bill France Four Crown and extended his lead over Kimmel by 25 points. Buescher has now gained 70 points on Kimmel in the last two races after leaving the Illinois State Fairgrounds with a 15-point advantage on Aug. 19.
“The Roulo Brothers did a really nice job, but we ended up with a torn-up race car,” he said. “We took second place and got the Four Crown, so that’s always good, really good news for us. We still gained some points. All in all, these guys did a nice job battling back. We had our radiator leaking and lost water pressure there. It took everything we could do to keep it cool, so it was a very nice job. I just wish we could have gotten a Ford in Victory Lane here.”
Now, one week and two races in October will decide the ARCA Racing Series title. The October 14 event at the DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds and the October 19 season finale at Kansas Speedway place Buescher at tracks where last season he finished first and second, respectively.
“We need to do what we’ve been doing,” he said. “We’re showing up with fast cars every week and it’s showing. This was about the roughest night we’ve had in a long time and we ended up second, so we’re doing the right things. We’re trying really hard. We just need to get a sponsor on this car to help out.”