RICHMOND, VA. — At Richmond Raceway, Chris Buescher had never finished higher than 15th, nor earned any stage points there, until he did both in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400.
Buescher finished third Sunday after earning four points for a seventh-place finish in stage two and contending for the overall win.
With 25 laps to go, Buescher closed Kevin Harvick’s 1.8-second lead to just half a second and was about to strike – until lap traffic struck back.
Harvick muscled by Bubba Wallace and easily passed Daniel Suarez, but Buescher had to follow Wallace in order to get around Suarez. Buescher subsequently fell 1.8 seconds behind Harvick and into the clutches of Christopher Bell, who passed him late and moved him to a third-place finish.
“I think it’s a little easy with this format to feel like third-place doesn’t matter, but it’s nice to be close and to keep progressing and getting better as we’ve gotten through the summer,” Buescher said. “Really neat to finish here. Really proud of everybody. Just burned the rear tires up, ultimately that’s on me. Lap traffic didn’t do us any favors, either, but ultimately just got to keep the rears under us a little bit better so we can have a little bit better shot there to get after him for the win.”
Buescher’s finish is his second top-5 finish and seventh top-10 finish of the season. He has tied his career-best top-5 mark with 12 races to go in the season.
The third-place finish also boosted Buescher’s average finish at Richmond from 25.3 to 23.6 – still his second-worst average finish of any track (minimum five starts) but lifting Richmond to not be his statistically-worst track after Sunday.
To make the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, Buescher still needs to win either August 21 at Watkins Glen (3 p.m. ET; TV: USA) or August 27 at Daytona (7 p.m. ET; TV: NBC).