Buescher Nearly Wins, Finishes P3 in Sonoma to Lead RFK

NKP #17: Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, BuildSubmarines.com Ford Mustang, #19: Martin Truex Jr, Joe Gibbs Racing, Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry

Chris Buescher led the second-most laps of any driver Sunday at Sonoma Raceway, won stage two and nearly lasted for the race win, before finishing third in the BuildSubmarines.com Ford.

Brad Keselowski put together a solid day, also with stage points, to finish 13th. Cam Waters unfortunately did not finish in his NASCAR Cup Series debut after being collected in a multi-car incident, despite a strong start.

“It was really good strategy on the day and an awesome finish,” Buescher said after the race. “I wasn’t quite able to hold the lead there and that bums me out, I was trying. I’ve got to be better and ultimately figure out how to make that last a little bit longer, but our team did a really nice job.

“To start where we did and finish right here at the front with our BuildSubmarines.com Ford Mustang, I’m really proud of that. Just another close one at the end of the day.”

The top three finish for Buescher marks the fifth-straight race an RFK car has finished inside the top three, and his best since P2 in Kansas.

6 Recap
Keselowski – carrying the banner for King’s Hawaiian and Despicable Me 4 – had arguably the best rebound of any driver, coming back from a 35th-place starting spot. The opening segments of the race saw eight total cautions in the first two stages alone, as the longest green flag run within the first 41 laps stood at just 13.

The No. 6 pitted twice in the opening stage, setting up a strategy play for later. He finished 27th to end the first stage and fired off 22nd to begin the second. Then, at lap 35, a multi-car incident occurred in turn 11, one that blocked the track and trapped Keselowski in 33rd. He stayed out in the caution break though, setting him up 18th on the ensuing restart.

He restarted 16th for the final restart of the stage at lap 42, then, as the lead cars were forced to pit to end the stage, Keselowski remained on track, regaining track position to ultimately earn stage points and finish sixth.

He and teammate Buescher restarted the third stage sixth and first, respectively, at lap 59 to begin the final run to the checkered. With one more stop needed, Keselowski remained on track for as long as possible, ultimately pitting again for the final time at lap 64 from sixth, before going on to finish 13th.

17 Recap
Buescher and the No. 17 team utilized a similar strategy to the No. 6 to start the race as the BuildSubmarines.com Ford had to rebound from 26th on the grid. He finished the first stage in 28th after pitting just once in the opening run.

The No. 17 rolled 24th to start stage two and worked his way up to 17th just five laps later on a restart. He skated through the incident at lap 35, advancing to 11th. A few laps later he got into the top-10 for the first time all day, restarting 10th with 13 laps remaining in the stage at lap 42.

He was the first car on different strategy, meaning when the lead cars pitted in the closing laps of the stage, Buescher inherited the lead for the final two laps to win the stage, earning a playoff point. He stayed out in the stage break and led the field back to green to begin stage three, ultimately hitting pit road for fuel at lap 68.

He again took the lead at lap 84 after another pit cycle occurred, and this time led for 17 laps before the No. 19 and No. 5 took over. He went on to finish third after the 19 ran out of fuel in the final lap, securing the top three result.

60 Recap
Waters made the most of his Cup debut despite the circumstances and was in line to inherit a top five position until an incident out of his control ultimately severely damaged the No. 60 AUKUS/BuildSubmarines.com Ford.

Waters – the Australian native – began the day from 31st and elected to pit early at lap 16 during one of the several cautions to begin the afternoon. With that strategy in play, Waters was able to slowly check off track position throughout the flurry of cautions. He worked his way to 18th by lap 20, and up to 18th to end the first stage.

He fired off 16th to begin stage two, restarted just outside the top-10 at lap 34, and was in line to gain more track position due to strategy, before chaos ensued the next lap. The No. 4 was forced into a host of cars into turn 11 on lap 35, which ultimately created a traffic jam where Waters sustained front-end damage. Despite the damage and not knowing how the car would run, Waters bounced back to finish the second stage in 21st.

However, as the laps ticked away, the right front and steering proved to be too damaged, forcing Waters to retire the car early.

“I had so much fun,” Waters said following his race. “This weekend and the whole experience coming to a road course in a Cup car was sensational. I had so much fun and I can’t thank everyone enough for making that happen. The start of the race, I took it easy the first couple of laps and then I pressed on and tried to pass some cars.

“The car was super fast. It could absolutely make some ground passing cars, which was really good. The cautions fell our way a bit and I guess effectively we were right up there somewhere. It was all looking really good.”

Up Next
Iowa Speedway hosts the NASCAR Cup Series for the first time ever next weekend with a night race on tap. Race coverage next Sunday is set for 7 p.m. ET on USA, with radio coverage on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).

RFK Racing PR

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