(OREGON, Wis. - August 26, 2012) - Points leader Chris Buescher withstood a series of challenges from Frank Kimmel and Alex Bowman and eight extra laps of racing to take a series-leading fourth win in 2012 at Madison International Speedway.
Buescher (No. 17 Roulo Brothers Racing Ford) led 110 of 208 laps, including the final 34, to win the Herr's Live Life with Flavor 200 and become the 40th driver in ARCA history with nine or more wins. He had to come back from 13th place early in the race after contact on Lap 31 sent him spinning out of the top five. He had started seventh.
The 19-year-old extended his points lead over Kimmel from 15 to 60. Kimmel took the lead from Buescher on Lap 173 but slipped up two laps later to give back the advantage. From there, Buescher survived challenges on three restarts and won by 0.7 second over Bowman, a reversal of the top two positions from the 2011 race at the half-mile oval.
To get to Victory Lane, Buescher not only had to drive through 208 laps but he had to wait through a rain delay that extended over three hours. Light rain fell over southern Wisconsin throughout the morning, but officials started the race just after 5:30 p.m.
"That was a lot of fun and I'm glad we got this race in here now," Buescher said. "It was a blast racing with quite a few guys out there. It's exactly what we saw last year, a lot of good, two-wide racing, clean racing. This is a really great race track to come do this at.
"Special thanks to the Roulo Brothers and Roush Fenway Racing for all their help. We got another Ford in Victory Lane once again. I'm just plugging along. I know this should help in the championship. We've only got, what? Three more (races)."
Bowman (No. 22 St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Dodge) fell one spot short of doubling his victory total at the southern Wisconsin track. Bowman had to come back from one lap down after driving off of the jack early on a pit stop in the first half of the race.
Kimmel was running second until contact from Chad Hackenbracht (No. 58 CGH Motorsports Chevrolet) on Lap 204 sent him spinning and back into 10th place. He recovered to finish ninth.
Bowman won the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell Saturday with a track qualifying record and led the first 54 laps. Buescher's Lap 31 spin forced the only caution in that period.
Brennan Poole (No. 25 Venturini Motorsports Toyota) had started second and pressured Bowman from the start, really shortening the advantage after the Lap 38 green flag. The two broke away from Hackenbracht and Erik Jones (No. 55 Paragon Corvette Reproductions Chevrolet), and Poole passed Bowman for the lead on Lap 55.
Hackenbracht quickly passed Bowman for second six laps later, and drove to within a half-second of Poole. He got by Poole on Lap 67, and then passed 14th-place driver Chase Elliott (No. 9 Aaron's Dream Machine/HendrickCars.com Chevrolet) to put him a lap down six laps later.
Soon after that, Mason Mingus spun off of Turn 4 to cause the race's second caution period. While running third on that series of pit stops, Bowman drove off the jack early and fell a lap down after being held by ARCA officials. Hackenbracht lined up first for the Lap 81 restart, but Jones passed immediately from the second position. He would lead just five laps.
Buescher stormed back to the front on Lap 86, passing Jones and putting a second on the field 10 laps later. He led by slightly more than that at Lap 131, when a lapped car spun in Turn 2 to yield the race's third caution flag.
The leaders pitted under that yellow flag, and Nelson Canache stayed out to take the lead. He led the restart on Lap 138, but the fourth caution came quickly as Poole found himself in the Turn 2 grass one lap later. In that turn of events, Clint King (No. 15 Speedrack Products Group/Warehouse Design Chevrolet) had passed for the lead and Buescher drove into second place. The two held the top two spots up to the Lap 143 restart, and two laps after that Buescher drove by King, winning a spirited side-by-side battle for his second lead of the race.
With fresh tires, some of the drivers behind Buescher were posting the fastest laps of the race. Bowman moved back into sixth at Lap 153 and fifth at Lap 155, and Jones moved to third on Lap 158. Kimmel, who had been fifth at the Lap 143 restart, found himself second and advancing on Buescher.
He looked inside Buescher on Lap 166 but could not complete a pass, but finally got by at Lap 173 for his first lead of the day. On Lap 175, though, Kimmel slipped in Turns 1 and 2, allowing Buescher to retake the lead. Kimmel had worked dozens of laps for the lead - and potentially in advantage in the season-long points chase - only to see it slip away in about 35 seconds.
A lapped car spun on Lap 187, setting Buescher, Kimmel, Jones, Bowman, and King as the top five for a Lap 193 restart. Buescher got away cleanly and the race stayed green as Elliott spun but then recovered. Bowman rose to third on Lap 197, but Buescher seemed to be running away with the race. However, Matt Lofton and Poole spun on Lap 198, setting up an attempt at a green-white-checkered finish.
The green flag flew at Lap 203 with Kimmel in second and Bowman third, and Buescher pulled away again. He led at the white flag, and Bowman and Jones passed for second and third. As for Kimmel, contact between him and Hackenbracht after the white flag sent the nine-time champion spinning and back into 10th. After a short caution period to force another attempt to end the race, the green and white flags flew at Lap 208 and Buescher drove away easily - yet again - to another short track win.
Hackenbracht was third over Jones, King, and Tom Hessert (No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet). Josh Williams (No. 02 Southwest Florida Cable Construction Ford) ended the day seventh. Elliott finished eighth over Kimmel and Poole.
The race lasted one hour, 29 minutes, and 28 seconds. Seven cautions slowed the race for 39 laps. The full race results are available here.
The second dirt race of the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season is up next in a Labor Day special on Monday, September 3 in DuQuoin, Ill.
Practice for the Southern Illinois 100 presented by Federated Car Care will begin at 9 a.m. and last for one hour, with Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell starting at 11. The 100-lap, 100-mile race will take place at 1 p.m. All times are Central. ARCARacing.com will feature live timing and scoring coverage throughout the day, and ARCA Racing Network hosts Charlie Krall and Tim Clagg will deliver a live audio call for the race on the site.