TOLEDO, Ohio – On restart after restart near the end of the Herr’s Live Life with Flavor 200 at Madison Int’l Speedway, Chris Buescher had to withstand challenges from some of those who join him atop the list of the best short track drivers in the ARCA Racing Series: Frank Kimmel and Alex Bowman.
For each, something was on the line. For Buescher, the chance to extend his series points lead was at hand. Kimmel was aiming for second consecutive victory for the first time in four seasons and had designs on the points lead himself, and Bowman was trying to win from the pole for the first time in his ARCA career.
Buescher held on for his fourth win of the season and the ninth win of his career, quadrupling his points lead over Kimmel from 15 to 60. For that, he has his own poise in the race’s tightest moments upon which to reflect. Though the championship lead was on the line, Buescher shifted those thoughts away.
“I didn’t want to see the caution coming to the checkered on that last one,” Buescher said. “Frank was a tough competitor. He raced me clean, as well as the 15 (Clint King) and 22 (Bowman) there at the end. I was definitely getting nervous there at the end, but I’m glad it’s over. (The points lead) was definitely in the back of my mind, but I tried not to think too much about it. You can go out here and win these last couple of races and win the points.”
The finish certainly wasn’t the only time the solid Buescher had to keep a cool head during the race. He was spun out of the top five while running in front of Kimmel and Mason Mingus very early in the race. Buescher said that radio conversations with his crew kept him patient.
“They did a good job of keeping me calm on the radio after that,” he said. “That’s something that could have really, really aggravated us and gotten us out of line, but we were able to turn it around and get back on our own game. We got that lead and couldn’t give it away.”
Late in the race, Buescher was locked in enough to make the winning move of the race, a Lap 175 pass of Kimmel when the veteran slipped in Turns 1 and 2. Buescher said he saw Kimmel’s car get free and knew he had to take advantage. He also said that he experienced the same loose, free sensation when driving in front of Kimmel, as he had done while leading 38 consecutive laps just before that.
In addition to his win, Buescher won the Aaron’s Lap Leader Award for the race by leading 110 of 208 laps, and he also won the CGS Imaging Hard Charger Award by advancing six positions from start to finish, more than any other driver. Buescher is second behind Buster Graham in the year-long Hard Charger standings.
Now, Buescher will race at two tracks where he is the defending race winner. He won at DuQuoin, site of the September 3 race, last year. Two weeks after that, he won the annual fall event at Salem Speedway. (Bowman won there this spring.)