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BRISTOL, TENNESSEE - SEPTEMBER 17: Chris Buescher, driver of the #17 Fastenal Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on September 17, 2022 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) | Getty Images
(Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

ARCA Graduate of the Week: Chris Buescher scores Cup Series victory at Bristol Motor Speedway

For some, Chris Buescher’s win in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway was a weight off his shoulders. For those who watched his ascension through the ARCA Menards Series, Buescher winning on a short track was an extension of the success he displayed in a short three-year run that culminated in the 2012 series championship.

Buescher’s success in the ARCA Menards Series was almost immediate.

He finished fourth in his debut at one of the most demanding racetracks in the country, Salem Speedway. He followed with two more top-five finishes, a third at Mansfield Motorsports Park and a fourth at Iowa Speedway. He closed the 2009 season, abbreviated to just seven starts due to his age, with a sixth-place run at Rockingham Speedway.

In 2010, Buescher picked up where he left off. He earned his first career pole in his second start of the year at Toledo Speedway, led 126 of the race’s 200 laps and took his first series win. Still just 17 years old, Buescher was not eligible to compete on the big tracks so he and the Roulo Bros. Racing Team focused on the short tracks. He made eight starts in 2010, winning both races at Toledo and notching five top-10 finishes.

He and the Roulo Bros. stepped up to a full-season effort in 2011 and Buescher went on a late-season hot streak that saw him rack up three wins in the final four races of the year. He led 60 of 100 laps to win on the dirt at DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, led 104 laps at Salem to take his second consecutive victory, and then closed the 2011 season with his third career win at Toledo Speedway.

The 2012 season was magical for Buescher and the team. He completed every lap, earned two poles, won four times – at Toledo, Michigan International Speedway, Berlin Raceway and Madison International Speedway – and won the series championship by 75 points over Frank Kimmel. Buescher’s average start was an impressive 6.6 and his average finish was 5.9. He led 394 laps and finished the season with 12 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes.

Buescher would move to the Roush Fenway Racing NASCAR Xfinity Series team in 2013 and was full-time by 2014. He earned his first victory at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, then won two more times in 2015 at Iowa Speedway and Dover Motor Speedway on his way to the Xfinity Series championship.

Buescher leapt into the NASCAR Cup Series in 2016 and earned his first Cup win that season at Pocono Raceway driving for Front Row Motorsports. In 2017 Buescher made the move to JTG Daugherty Racing, and he picked up a pair of fifth-place finishes at Daytona in 2018. Buescher made the move back to the Roush Fenway organization in 2019, and teamed with former series champion and new team co-owner Brad Keselowski in 2022.

Buescher’s Bristol win came in his 250th career Cup Series start.