A lot of people whose mailing lists I’m on and whose Twitter accounts I’m subscribed to seemed excited when rookie driver Chris Buescher won Monday’s rain-delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup race near Pocono, Pennsylvania, though it wasn’t exactly a fantastic finish.
There were capital letters, exclamation points and positive hashtags.
With fog and lightning and rain and who knows what other meteorological byproducts bearing down, Buescher, who drives for one of NASCAR’s smallest teams — whose average 2016 finish was 27.8 and who had not had a top-10 finish — stayed out on the track when the fast cars and drivers pitted for fuel and tires and directions in the murky conditions.
NASCAR red-flagged the race after 138 of 160 scheduled laps. That made Buescher the stunning winner, and sent stock car people who don’t pay rapt attention to the Xfinity Series (Buescher won last year’s Triple-A championship) deep into the media guide for little-known facts or anecdotes about him.
Others said it was a pretty cool racin’ deal for the kid to win like that, even if it was mostly luck and the track looked like Boggy Creek at the end.
“A win is a win!” pit road reporter Jamie Little of Las Vegas wrote on her Twitter account. “Congrats Chris Buescher! Perfect trophy for the Texas kid. #Firstwin.”
Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage, who has a knack for getting TMS into the news, even when it’s a long way from the news, had underlings send out a statement:
“Hear that noise? That’s all 12,000 people in Prosper, Texas, celebrating Chris Buescher’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup win at Pocono. It’s probably the biggest thing there since the Prosper Fishing Derby.”
Only Eddie Gossage could make a reference to the Prosper Fishing Derby in an official statement and not bring out a yellow flag. Buescher is from Prosper.
Is there a tie between young Chris Buescher, 23, and Las Vegas Motor Speedway, other than that is where the photo that appears with his Wikipedia bio was taken?
Yes, there is.
During 2007, when Buescher was 14, he commuted from Prosper to LVMS to drive Legends cars at the Bullring. He won a bunch of races in the run-up to that year’s Asphalt Nationals at the Bullring.
Now he’s a NASCAR Cup winner, the longest of long shots to take the checkered flag, and who besides Eddie Gossage had the foggiest notion that it could happen? If the kid improves one position in the points, he will get to run with the fast cars and drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
If it happens, there’s probably a good chance Chris Buescher will receive a bye to the quarterfinals at next year’s Prosper Fishing Derby.
• NASCAR betting expert Micah Roberts, who writes for the Review-Journal and VegasInsider.com, said at 1,000-1 odds at Westgate Las Vegas, Chris Buescher was, indeed, the longest of long shots to win a Cup race. (Regan Smith was 500-1 to win at Darlington in 2011.) Nobody bet Buescher at Westgate. He was part of the “field” wager at William Hill parlors; 28 field bets, ranging in odds from 200-1 to 300-1, were placed, Roberts said.
• More Roberts, on the improbability of Buescher winning at Pocono:
“First, Buescher needed rain to cancel Sunday’s race. He also needed an earlier start time Monday, and he also needed fog to roll over the track. He needed great advice from veteran crew chief Bob Osborne to stay out on the track the latest after everyone pitted, despite being light on fuel himself. That gave him the lead. He needed the fog to be so thick — something rarely seen at other tracks — that the caution flag dropped on lap 133, and he could conserve fuel going at the pace car speed …”
“ … He needed the fog to get even thicker to the point visibility was impossible, causing the red flag to drop with 22 laps remaining — which made his lack of fuel problem a nonissue with the car parked. And then he needed the fog to hover and another storm front come over and start dropping rain, making it impossible for the track to dry quickly enough for the race to start again.
“He got all of that to happen — 1,000-1 worth of scenarios.”
• En route to finishing 10th, local leadfoot Kurt Busch completed all 138 laps of Monday’s rain-fog-lightning-shortened Cup race at Pocono Speedway — and has now completed every lap in the first 21 races of the season. For those keeping lap charts at home, that’s a NASCAR record.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at email@example.com or 702-383-0352. His motor sports notebook runs on Friday. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.