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Chris Buescher Pulls Off The Upset at Richmond

Image: Skip Rowland/AP

Coming into Richmond, the big storyline of the NASCAR Cup Series was Denny Hamlin vs Kyle Larson. Last week at Pocono, Hamlin used Larson up on a late race restart to go on to win. Larson was less than pleased in his post-race interview and throughout the week. Larson did talk to reports about the incident on Saturday but said that he didn’t want to meet up with Hamlin during the week. This is just the start of a rivalry between the two longtime friends. But as the Cup Series departs from Richmond, there is an unexpected driver in the spotlight this time around.

Buescher with a Huge Win at Richmond:

Throughout the years, everybody has known that Chris Buescher has tremendous talent. He is the 2015 Xfinity Series Champion, which was won with Roush Fenway Racing. In his Cup Series rookie campaign in 2016, he won at Pocono for Front Row Motorsports, which was called early to weather. That’s when Buescher’s career started going up and down. In 2020, Buescher went back to Roush in hopes of making a run for the playoffs. It wasn’t until Bristol in September of 2022 that Buescher was able to get back to victory lane. That win ended a 222-race winless streak for Buescher and ended a five-year winless streak for Roush. Those numbers never mattered to Buescher, not once. Ever since that win at Bristol, Roush has been on an upward trend. Throughout the day at Richmond, it seemed as though it was going to be a Toyota-dominated race.

More specifically, a 23XI Racing dominated race. Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace led a combined total of just 80 laps throughout the day. But that doesn’t mean that they didn’t have great pace. It was a strategy game throughout the entire race. This is what put Buescher in the lead on a green flag cycle of pit stops. Buescher would have to survive a late-race restart but held off a hard-charging Denny Hamlin to win at Richmond. This win is Buescher’s first at Richmond and the first of this season. But that is where all the good news comes to a halt. If you have been paying attention to NASCAR at least from the start of the 2022 season, then you know that the short-track racing is not great. That trend unfortunately continued this past Sunday at Richmond.

More Short Track Problems:

Ever since the first short track race for the next-gen car, there have been several issues. Thankfully, there have been some changes to the aero package that has been used on the short tracks. But still, there have only been two good short-track races in the next-gen era. Those races are Richmond from this Spring and New Hampshire two weeks ago. So, what was the difference between the Spring Richmond race and the Summer Richmond race? The answer is simple. The air and track temperature. This race in Richmond was almost 25 degrees warmer than in the Spring, so it was extremely hot. The track was very hot and very slick, but there was still not much passing happening on the track. Thankfully, NASCAR has been conducting testing for a new short-track package that is set to debut next year.

What to Expect from Michigan:

As NASCAR heads from Richmond, they will head back north to the Irish hills of Michigan. Michigan is a fast two-mile track that has been dominated by Ford in the last 10 years. In the last 18 Michigan races, 11 of those races have been won by Ford drivers. That includes the last eight races, five of which have been won by Kevin Harvick. All of Harvick’s five Michigan wins have come in the last seven Michigan races.  If there is one driver to watch on Sunday, watch for Kevin Harvick. This is Harvick’s last attempt to win at Michigan, but this is also his best opportunity to win this season.

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